In our new white paper identifying the key leadership trends for 2021 and beyond, we discuss the growing importance of the hybrid model, which incorporates a blend of in-office and remote work for an organization’s employees. For lots of companies, this model was ushered in during the chaos of the Covid pandemic, and many still struggle to reach a successful balance. How can Learning & Development (L&D) teams embrace this new normal and ensure they equip employees with the capabilities they need to thrive? Here are our top tips for L&D in a hybrid world:
Deliver the right skills for today’s world
Program content must be adapted to the new circumstances brought on by the Covid pandemic. L&D teams need to develop initiatives that equip participants with the new competencies and skills that are needed for success in a hybrid world. For example, the pandemic has forced many companies to innovate and find new ways of doing business. L&D programs must support the business in these goals and provide the appropriate innovation development programs for employees, managers and leaders.
Plan for the unexpected
The days of scheduling training programs months ahead of time and expecting them to run exactly as planned is long over. L&D teams must be flexible, and be ready to switch from face-to-face to remote or blended programs when the health situation requires it. This is especially true for programs that aim to bring together participants from different geographies, where quarantine rules may block international travel. L&D teams must be sure to have a backup plan ready for when face-to-face meetings start to look impossible.
Engagement is the name of the game
This brings us to our next point: no matter the format of the program, learner engagement is key. L&D teams have now had almost two years to adjust to running programs at a distance, and there are no longer any excuses for uninspired remote programs. There are many ways to make remote and blended programs engaging, with experiential learning at the top of the list. Teams must also be aware of the physical and psychological strain that too much remote workplaces on employees: learning programs should incorporate regular breaks and participants’ workloads need to be appropriately adjusted for the duration of the program.
L&D executives often bemoan remote programs as offering fewer possibilities than face-to-face programs, and it is true that certain activities cannot be replicated at all virtually (think of a team-building trip in a forest for example). However, remote programs do in fact have some benefits over face-to-face programs, and L&D teams need to take advantage of these and get creative! For example, bringing in busy senior speakers is much easier when they don’t need to fly in somewhere for a one-hour engagement but can simply jump on a Zoom call. There are lots of exciting virtual activities, including VR or AR experiences, online business games and virtual visits that can spice up any development program. On the other hand, teams should make sure to schedule at least small networking sessions face-to-face when possible, so that participants can interact away from a screen from time to time.
As always, the overarching imperative for L&D will be to demonstrate clear and tangible value for the business. In this new hybrid work environment, business leaders will be relying on L&D to help make the transition as smooth as possible and ensure teams are equipped with the right skills to thrive today and tomorrow. Programs and initiatives need to be regularly evaluated so that their impact is properly quantified and communicated.
To find out about the other leadership trends that will make an impact this year and beyond, download our free white paper today.