Designing learning programmes for a hybrid, post-pandemic workforce

Kath Greenhough, APAC VP, Skillsoft, identifies the key strategies that can address the learning needs and styles of employees.
By: | February 2, 2023

It is no surprise that the world has changed due to COVID-19. One of the most noticeable transformations was the way people work. Forced to close doors while functioning at full capacity, companies and their workers set up remote ‘offices’ and adapted to the new normal.

What started in crisis mode is now the business model for many organisations. While some workers have returned or will return to offices, most work in a new hybrid capacity, creating an equal supply of challenges, opportunities, and adjustments.

The rise of virtual collaboration

Organisations across the globe are freeing themselves of physical space as workforces remain 100% remote or have transitioned to a hybrid version of in-office and at-home workdays. The good news is that team-based collaborative learning experiences are working.

While many businesses see real benefits to this new work mode, there are challenges. One of the issues is how they create a hybrid learning model that keeps people connected and their skills up to date.

Virtual collaboration is not entirely new. Enterprises with multiple geographically diverse offices have been doing it long before the pandemic. But the challenge in shifting from ‘some remote work’ to ‘all remote work’ is how to evolve and scale quickly and keep employees engaged with tasks and team members — all while maintaining productivity.

In times of flux, agility, flexibility, and reliability matter most. Organisations need to adapt by continuously evolving their employees’ skillsets. Building competencies and filling skills gaps must be at the forefront of all plans.

Team-based learning is more important than ever

The idea of ‘workplace’ as a noun has changed dramatically in terms of how we work and learn. It is no longer limited to a specific physical space. During the pandemic, employees proved that, in many cases, virtual collaboration can be just as effective as face-to-face. So, what is next?

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“Organisations need a strategy that not only delivers the skills the business needs but can also adjust and adapt to deliver future skills that have not yet been identified.” – Kath Greenhough, APAC VP, Skillsoft

In the coming months and years, we will see a mix of employees who will return to the office full-time, continue working remotely, or seek a balance between the two. We will see how effective a hybrid mix of physical and digital coworking can be and how organisations create a hybrid learning model that can keep people connected from a skill-building perspective.

Organisations need a strategy that not only delivers the skills the business needs but can also adjust and adapt to deliver future skills that have not yet been identified. This will require an agile approach to the people, processes, and technologies that deliver learning. Learning will have to do even more to adapt to how people work.

As organisations seek to improve learning in a hybrid, post-pandemic environment, they must answer several critical questions, including:

  • Do we have the ecosystem/infrastructure to create an effective learning environment for a hybrid workforce?
  • Are we in a position to develop the skills the business will require in the future?
  • Do we have the technology, content, skills, and competencies to create and deliver effective virtual instructor-led learning?
  • Are we leveraging in-person instructor-led training properly to reflect today’s need for a more blended approach?

Five strategies for designing learning programmes in a hybrid, post-pandemic workforce

With all these in mind, there are five strategies companies should consider for learning in a hybrid, post-pandemic workforce:

1.  Develop virtual instructor-led programmes with a focus on the learner and their learning environment. Simply re-purposing in-person ILT will not suffice. VILT requires different types of content, interactivity, and facilitation skills.

2.  Leverage the collaboration and communication tools people are already using. Bringing learning into the workflow in today’s environment requires learning to be accessible in places like Microsoft Teams, Webex, Zoom, and other tools.

3.  Focus on developing a workforce that can be agile and thrive in a remote or hybrid environment. Leaders need more skill development in managing remote teams, and organisations must prioritise agility.

4.  As organisations strive to keep people connected and engaged, ensure you develop learning programmes where people can learn together, no matter where they are located.

5.  Do not rush back into “ILT-as-usual” once conditions allow. Think about how the ILT (instructor-led training) experience fits into the new hybrid environment. Re-imagine the classroom itself and the experience it provides.

As an organisation, the coming period is crucial. Planning for the changing work environment we are encountering and adapting to and providing for the learning needs and styles of your workforce will put you ahead of the curve. 

About the Author: Kath Greenhough is APAC VP at Skillsoft