Before we explore how to use blended learning to empower the hybrid workplace, we want to give you a quick recap of the why and wherefores. Why should you consider such a change of pace and style? Fixing what isn’t broken stops a lot of businesses from refining their processes and making progress, unaware that tweaks such as blended learning could be a Pandora’s Box of motivation, empowerment and success.
So, Why? Well, to summarize:
- It drives better collaboration across the organization
- It offers more flexibility and accessibility to learners
- It offers better opportunities for training and development
- It improves social cohesion among colleagues
- It allows a business to think more internationally and surpass geographic limitations
- It contributes to overall digital transformation in the workplace
The list really could go on, but it’s time to talk about the how.
Steps to creating a blended learning culture for blended workplace empowerment
Digital platform and tool familiarization
Before any training begins, all participants must first be given foundational knowledge about the tools they will be using and how they function. These tools and software programs often come with demos and training modes, but if not, it’s important to develop at least a practice session that allows the employees to learn what the buttons do and how they can contribute during a training session.
These inductions are valuable, as any potential learner who fails to grasp the system will always feel like they’re several steps behind their peers, damaging their confidence and information absorption. Create comprehensive and easy-to-understand quick-start manuals for all platforms and systems used in the blending learning process. Then, test, explore, get feedback, collaborate, and make improvements.
Implementing opportunities for feedback and discussion
To empower an employee, you must make them feel heard, feel that their decisions will be respected, and show that their initiative is valued. Overlooking the feedback and discussion element of blended learning is a mistake that many organizations and platforms make, failing to understand that learning is a two-way street. In most cases, a blended learning platform that requires the learner to give feedback is more useful than one that does not offer this function. Learning teams must then use this feedback to shape their content or format and offer further information.
Consistency is key to the strategy
Those who want to be trained (a surprisingly high percentage of the workforce), want to be trained consistently. Sporadic courses won’t cut it. Training needs to be integrated into the workflow, especially when you have a hybrid workplace and workforce. All employees need to be trained equally, consistently and regularly, to help improve skill retention and development.
When we say consistency, however, we don’t mean to make blended learning boring, monotonous, and routine-like. In fact, live sessions, workshops, and challenges can be mixed in with pre-recorded sessions. Within that, there should be a good mix of relevant project work, engaging quizzes, team assignments, interactive videos, and business simulations to name a few. Spice it up!
By consistency, we also don’t mean fixing a forced training program into the schedule. Flexibility is more important, so that team members can choose when and where to absorb and process the content, offering them a more personalized learning experience that can achieve more impressive results. Ultimately, it gives learners agency, which leads to empowerment.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning
We touched on it in the last section, but in reality, it deserves a section of its own. Not all employees are available at the same time for learning opportunities. This used to create the problem that you either attend or you miss out. Fortunately, thanks to pre-recorded and recorded training sessions, the learners who cannot attend don’t have to suffer (anymore).
In a hybrid workplace, this approach must be the norm. There’s no reason to forgo the in-person classes as long as they’re being recorded. There’s also no reason to mandate a specific time to watch a video or flick through a presentation. However, there will be times when synchronous training is needed, but they should form the minority of learning events, and will include workshops and live webinars. Asynchronous (which can be accessed at any time) learning content could include expert videos, assessments and modules for self-paced learning.
Dedicated Digital Content Creation Team
Blended learning is a real commitment, not something to be done with half measures. Thus, the best way to manage and grow such a project is to bring people from your L&D department into the fold and give them the responsibility of being digital content creators. This means planning content, courses, quizzes, videos, interactive material, and more. They’ll want great software, excellent training, and a lot of backing to ensure that their work will be promoted, used and shared widely.
Reinvest the Savings!
You might be thinking that all of these changes are going to be costly. Well, you’d be wrong. The truth is that blended learning is far more cost-efficient than in-person training alone. Each time you send an employee on a training course, it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, with no guarantee that what they’re learning will be useful or applicable. In-house blended learning solves that problem, and with great savings.
Dow Chemical claimed to have reduced their cost per learner from $95 to $11, and Microsoft reduced theirs from $320 to $17. Those savings could be useful to help profits, but it would be better to reinvest those savings into the blended learning approach, getting more expertise, more creators and better equipment.
Final Words on How to Use Blended Learning to empower the Hybrid Workplace
Of all these suggestions, the most important thing is to collaborate. This is a changed world, a changed workplace, and there are so many people whose lives are different now and their needs have changed. By collaborating at all stages, employees can become a part of the bigger picture, instead of feeling simply forced to see it. When employees feel that their input and output are felt in the organization, and that they can still have the flexibility or a hybrid work life, whilst their employer invests in their training and development, they will almost certainly feel empowered.