One of the business outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is an increase in hybrid working arrangements. Hybrid working is where employees spend part of their working week in the office and the rest working from home. How do you ensure you continue to deliver on your training and development objectives when people are working remotely for large parts of the week?
The first thing to highlight is that training and development in a hybrid workplace is not a technical issue. In fact, technical issues are minimal when it comes to hybrid working. For many businesses, productivity isn’t an issue either.
The biggest challenges with hybrid working are cultural and business process-related, including in relation to training. In other words, you will need to adapt your training and development strategy to fully optimise it for the hybrid workplace. The following nine strategy areas are good places to start.
Increase Your Use of E-Learning
E-learning is the ideal training delivery method for hybrid working as it doesn’t matter when a learner completes the training, where they are, or on what device. As a result, you should start developing e-learning training courses if you don’t have any already.
If e-learning is part of your organisation’s training programme, you should consider increasing it.
Decrease In-Person Training
You should also decrease in-person training at the same time as increasing e-learning. In many situations, e-learning can replace in-person training. A blended learning approach with a virtual instructor-led element can also be beneficial.
Decreasing in-person training makes sense as in-person training goes against the principles of hybrid working.
There is one caveat to the above – the exception to the rule. One of the reasons that hybrid working is often the preferred model over fully remote working is that people still like to have in-person interactions with those they work with. So, in some circumstances, in-person training might be beneficial if it is also used as a teambuilding exercise.
For other training courses, however, switching to an alternative delivery method (such as e-learning) is the better approach.
One group of people that can struggle most in a hybrid workplace is managers. This particularly applies to managers who operate by tightly controlling the day-to-day activities of their team.
The best hybrid working models are those based on outcomes rather than strict control over activities. In other words, instead of closely monitoring start times, hours worked, and finish times, employees are assessed on the results they achieve.
This requires a different style of management and leadership. As a result, your managers might benefit from training.
There are other areas where management training can be beneficial in a hybrid workplace. Improving collaboration in remote teams is one example, as is combating proximity bias. Proximity bias is where we naturally place a higher value on work we can physically see in person. For example, viewing the work of an employee in the office more positively than an employee working remotely, regardless of the results achieved.
Enhance Communication Skills Training
Communication skills are also crucial in a hybrid workplace. The employees in your organisation may have to learn how to communicate asynchronously, for example, or they might need to improve their written communication skills. After all, written communications can easily be taken the wrong way.
So, if you have transformed into a hybrid workplace, consider enhancing the communication skills training that you offer to employees.
Integrate Training into the Routine
While employees generally prefer hybrid working compared to being in an office full-time, they often find they work longer hours. There can be several reasons for this, but one of them is to demonstrate they are working productively even when working from home.
The result is that, even in a hybrid workplace, time is a valuable commodity. This means finding enough of it for training and development can be tough. One solution is to integrate training into the routine of your employees, essentially making it a part of their job and ensuring they have enough time to complete the training.
Ensure E-Learning Content is Accessible
Hybrid working arrangements often lead to an increase in the use of e-learning, putting into even sharper focus the importance of ensuring the content is accessible to learners of all abilities.
Customise Content to Personalise the Learning Experience
As with all types of training, engagement is crucial to success when implementing training and development initiatives in a hybrid workplace, i.e., the more engaging the training, the better the results will be.
There are a lot of ways to make training courses engaging, but one of the most effective is to personalise the content. This could be anything from personalising the content according to job role or function or tailoring the makeup of a training course according to skills level.
Invest in the Best Possible Onboarding Training
Getting started and settling in with a new job can be tricky, and it is even more challenging when the company you are joining has a hybrid working approach. In hybrid work environments, it is harder to meet people, make connections, and get up to speed.
Optimising the onboarding training you offer to new recruits can help to alleviate some of these challenges.
Establish and Foster a Culture of Self-Directed Learning
In a hybrid workplace, there has to be more trust between employees and the employer. This should also apply to training and development, with employees encouraged to adopt a self-directed learning approach. You will still need to be involved, including to provide training courses and material. After that, as much as possible should be up to individual learners.
Hybrid working is a relatively new experience for many companies, particularly on the scale we are currently seeing. As a result, it is not easy to get everything right all the time. This also applies to e-learning in a hybrid workplace. The best approach is to follow the strategies outlined above while also constantly assessing and refining as you go. This will ensure your training and development activities continue to deliver on the requirements of the business.