The challenge for most companies in 2022 will be to define their hybrid working model and put it into practice. There isn’t one clear blueprint that all executives should follow. Google buying up expensive propertyThe definition of hybrid work is still unclear. One consequence of changing where and how people work is an evolution in how we create workplace learning.
In Prudentials March 2021 Pulse of the American Worker survey87% of respondents stated that they prefer to work in different spaces. The consensus is that the ratio between working in an office and working at home would be 3 to 2, or the Depending on how flexible your employer may be, the answer could be the opposite.
There is clearly a desire for employees to work from home, at minimum for office staff. However, many people still believe that they need to be able to interact with others in person and have office time to progress their careers. As professionals in learning and development, we need to ask ourselves the following question: How can we adapt L&D offerings to best fit the environment people will work in? So what does hybrid learning look and how can it be used in today’s workplace?
Learning in a hybrid environment is one of the main components of learning
If the future is to split our work time between the office and the home, then it follows that we cannot do all of our training in one location. Cue blended learning. Blended learning has been primarily focused on the use technology to support classroom training in recent years. There is a growing belief that blended learning goes beyond adding an elearning module or a bit of video content to classroom training.
The idea that the blend is made up of three factors is emerging. The first is that some learning styles are better matched to specific locations. For example, collaborative training is best done in an office setting while self-directed learning works best at home. Learning is a journey, which takes into consideration different learning styles and locations. Technology allows us to access learning in a seamless and efficient manner from any location. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Blended learning across work environments: Some considerations
Let’s start by exploring the idea of matching learning with locations. You might be wondering why people would prefer to work at home when they have to travel to an office. You can use activities to list the things people do in an office: collaborate, brainstorm, discuss and analyze. Although all of these activities can be done in virtual meeting rooms, they are more efficient when done face-to-face. The obvious conclusion is that offices can be used to facilitate collaboration and get together. It is logical to limit training in the office to situations where group interactions are required. These examples include, but not be limited to:
- Finding creative or innovative solutions to problems.
- Role-playing scenarios that are work-based, such as discussing performance reviews.
- Practice specific skills to get feedback from your manager.
We can see that group participation and the ability look at the nuances of how people interact is important.
Technology can make it easier to do anything at home, whether it’s for personal use or as preparation for group interactions. These techniques work well at home:
- Anything you want to learn at your own pace, self-directed.
- Flipped classrooms are situations in which most learning happens alone, before being shared with a group.
- Online guided learning sessions with an instructor who guides learners through the content.
It is clear that there is a difference between learning activities that can easily be done at home and those that are best done in the office. These distinctions allow us to plan the first steps of learning journeys, where components must be matched to specific locations.
Next, let’s look at learning journeys and how they can be created. A learning journey can be described as a sequence of training or development interactions, even a short learning experience. Second, let’s agree to the idea of a learning path that has a clear start and an end point that includes tactics for use in the workplace. This is different from the alternative notion that a learning experience is a continuous learning process that encourages people to learn continuously. Thirdly, let’s note that the structure, pace, and spacing of a journey depend on the type and purpose of the learning.
These basic principles can be used to create learning journeys that maximize time and space to ensure that learning is accessed, used effectively, and then transferred to real work.
The last factor in designing hybrid learning is technology use and deployment. This topic may seem simple to most people, especially considering that the dominant trend in learning used to be that everything had to go mobile. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that people don’t want to be mobile anymore. They are so static that Zoom fatigue is a real concern when working from home.
People don’t need more screens to get tired. Instead, the L&D function must learn skills to better manage learning interactions within the digital space and know the best time to deploy digital-based education.All learning should be done online in the ideal. This is based on the idea of the flipped classroom, knowledge transfer, and serves as a lead-in to or follow-up learning done in physical spaces.
While not all training is required to be done at home, on extended learning journeys or in full use of technology, we are increasingly seeing that elements of all these aspects can lead to the effective use of time, space, and transfer learning to work. Therefore, it is vital to be able know the what, when, and how of learning.
First steps to making a significant change
First, find out where your company wants its workforce to work. Also, determine how the staff will be split between office and home. If all employees are suddenly required to return to work or allowed to work from home, even the best-designed blended learning plan, it will be useless. There are some indications that this is trueThis will be a collaborative decision. It is worth getting involved early to understand the decisions and to make your case for hybrid learning.
The second is to begin evaluating your current L&D program. Consider the types of learning and where they can be found. Also consider how to best position them in a learning journey. This analog version of learning design will take some time but will be very influential in formulating budgets and making requests to technology investors.
Best of luck.