Globally, the workplace is transitioning to a hybrid model that will continue to have remote teams. Training a hybrid workforce requires a new learning mindset. In this article, I share strategies for workplace learning with a hybrid workforce.
What Is the Hybrid Workplace?
The workplace of the future is hybrid – It implies a blend of in-office and remote employees, some of whom may even rotationally work in an office and remotely. This hybrid model implies that team members are geographically dispersed, even potentially spanning multiple time zones.
This presents a host of challenges, many of which can be resolved with an effective hybrid workplace learning strategy and roadmap.
Truly, the hybrid workplace existed before COVID forced most knowledge workers to engage remotely. The response to the pandemic-triggered remote operations proved that many organizations were ready to face the inherent technical and operational challenges.
Now that a hybrid workforce is the recognized reality, many organizations have realized its potential to increase productivity, retain and entice top talent, as well as enhance workflows.
Not only has it become clear that a hybrid workforce can remain competitive in the market but flexibility has also become one of the most sought-after attributes of employers by top talent.
- Employees are seeking organizations willing to embrace the hybrid workplace mindset, making it essential for recruiting and maintaining skilled workers.
- Most employees are reporting that they’d like to remain virtual or at least go into a hybrid workplace model.
But many organizations are still struggling culturally, trying to adapt workplace learning tactics and mindsets.
What Are the Challenges of Transitioning to a Hybrid Workplace?
This transition is no longer a technical or operational challenge, but a cultural challenge.
Training professionals need to adapt their techniques to help employees develop the skills and mentality required to successfully navigate the new hybrid workplace environment. This means that there is an added variable to training needs analysis (TNA).
The typical TNA considered things like number of learners; incumbent knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs); and motivation. But now that the workforce is a hybrid of remote and on-site employees, training solutions will need to adapt.
What Should Be the Vision for a Hybrid Model Plan?
Most organizations still need to determine their strategy or tactics to train in a hybrid workplace. The following are key aspects to consider while creating a workplace learning roadmap for a hybrid workforce:
- Consider the fact that it may be impossible to assume a common location. That includes not just geographic distance but also time zones.
- There is an increased need for leadership training. Leaders need to understand how to adapt to highly variable environments. Agility and flexibility are key competencies for leaders and organizations.
- Leaders and employees in a hybrid workplace need to develop deeper levels of trust. Managers can no longer monitor productivity by just walking around, hoping for chance encounters. They need to deliberately coach and mentor employees – even over distance.
- Employees need to develop higher levels of transparency in their work processes, learning to leverage virtual tools for more collaborative efforts.
- Workplace learning teams need to develop iterative and accessible feedback loops between learners and learning professionals. This will help workplace learning teams quickly understand what is working and what isn’t. They’ll be able to iterate with agility and improve training outcomes and performance.
- Workplace learning teams need to collaborate with IT and HR teams for more effective onboarding procedures, ensuring that new employees get the support they need from the beginning of employment.
- In a hybrid workplace, learning strategies need to consider the strengths and weaknesses between Instructor-Led Training (ILT), Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT), blended solutions, and fully online training solutions.
- Workplace learning teams need to factor for what learners seek: flexibility, trust, communication, engagement, motivation, and collaboration.
- Organizations should seek to develop a culture of learning, empowering employees to continuously pursue experimentation, improvement, and excellence.
What Are the Must-Have Workplace Learning Strategies in the Hybrid Workplace?
The following are strategies key to successful workplace learning in the hybrid workplace:
- Eliminate as many distractions as possible – Don’t expect employees to work on complex tasks while simultaneously answering emails or constantly monitoring messaging apps.
- Grant employees solitary time to be used for focused learning – as if they have an office door to close.
- Integrate learning into the flow of work – Often, learning in the flow of work is the most effective change management strategy. This can be done through microlearning applications, just-in-time training, and performance support systems. This also deepens how personalized learning can be for each employee, their tasks and interests, and needs.
- Create immersive and experiential learning opportunities through the following:
- True-to-life scenario based and use case learning.
- Enhanced learner engagement in traditional learning solutions.
- Augmented reality that improves the learning experience. Today’s technology has made it easier to augment reality through virtual reality headsets and even mobile applications.
- Immersive learning combats the forgetting curve, inducing employees to apply what they’ve learned immediately and repeatedly.
- Leverage multiple learning modalities with blended learning solutions.
- Leverage collaborative and informal learning for:
- Social interaction, creating a space where knowledge can be discussed, evaluated, and applied.
- Coaching and mentoring with interactive and immediate feedback loops.
- Content curation and discussion forums.
- Plan for accessible eLearning – This is vital, because in a hybrid workforce, employees will be spread across geographic areas and time zones. Asynchronous eLearning allows learners to complete trainings when and where they can and at their own pace.
What Learning Strategies Need to Fade into History?
Consider the following learning strategies and determine if they’re active in your workplace learning tactics and practices. If they are, consider replacing them with more effective practices.
- Virtual instruction that attempts to mirror face-to-face Instructor-Led Training – Transitioning from traditional on-site, face-to-face training to asynchronous blended models is not a one-to-one process. Trainers cannot just do the same thing in a virtual environment that they did a live environment. A hybrid workforce doesn’t respond well to learning designed for face-to-face interactions.
- Live training or classroom training, while still important, is not likely to be as sought for as in the past. Hybrid workforces require a new learning strategy where learning can be done on the job, in the flow of work, so plan to blend these sessions effectively with online assets.
Culturally many workforce learning organizations are behind the technical and operational advances made to accommodate a hybrid workforce.
I hope the strategies outlined in this article will help you adapt workplace learning to embrace and capitalize on a hybrid workforce.
Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.
- eBook: Elevating Remote Learning Programs – How to Drive Continuous Learning Outside the Formal Training Environment
- Creating a Connected Learning Solution by Supporting Your Formal Training with Informal Learning
- How to Drive Just-in-time Learning with Performance Support Tools
- 6 Go-to Strategies to Transform Your Recorded VILT Sessions to Engaging Microlearning Modules
- How to Build an Army of Lifelong Learners in Your Organization
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