Hybrid working took the business world by storm in 2021, and organizations everywhere are grappling to find a smooth transition to new training and development programs for all of their employees. As the pandemic has begun to ease and businesses are opening up, several organizations have given their employees the option to work remotely—permanently. A lot of businesses have made the executive choice to allow employees to work from home, work from the office, or better yet, both. The term “hybrid” is being used to refer to this new, flexible business setting.
Hybrid work proposes a unique challenge for L&D teams everywhere. Not only do they have to design and deliver training programs for remote employees and in-office employees, but they now must construct programs that tailor to both. L&D teams are still a critical component to how organizations respond to challenges such as these and creating a smooth transition for every employee is crucial to the success and growth of not only the business, but also the individual employees.
Focus Areas for Training Programs
There are specific areas of learning and development that are important to creating a well-running program for hybrid work environments.
- Employee Well-Being: Training not only needs to cover mindfulness for leaders and managers, but also productivity and well-being for individual employees. Soft skills are extremely important throughout a hybrid work environment, and each employee must be considered. By incorporating soft skills in conjunction with employee mindset and well-being, L&D teams have the ability to design work and training that accurately fits working conditions.
- Collaboration and Teamwork: Conveying strong messages and holding conversation is a lot more complicated in a digital or hybrid environment. Teams are communicating via Zoom meetings or Slack instead of in person, which can often damper the effectiveness of communication. One method that has become very popular among organizations is the use of storytelling. By utilizing real life examples with real people, messages come across clearer and there’s higher engagement and participation.
- Organization-wide culture: With employees being more disconnected from the physical organization in hybrid environments, it is important that company values and culture are still conveyed to all employees. One thing to consider is having mentors and coaching available for employees. This gives individuals access to someone who upholds the mission and vision of the organization, which can be a valuable resource. We previously discussed coaching best practices, and there’s a huge opportunity here that can improve employee performance and engagement, especially in a hybrid scenario.
One of the biggest obstacles organizations will face in a hybrid environment is employee engagement, especially in terms of training and L&D programs. By focusing on user experience and design, you will be able to grab your employees’ attention and keep them engaged longer. By having the right technology in place, along with the right people and setting clear expectations, effective virtual delivery and effective hybrid delivery of your trainings is possible.
Utilize a Blended Learning Approach for Hybrid Training
Blended learning is a common method used throughout L&D teams, where it extends training outside of just one instance. It is proven to be a more effective way for employees to obtain knowledge, as content and material is delivered in a variety of ways over an extended period of time. Consider some blended learning techniques while conducting your hybrid training program.
One example is video and audio, which can be ideal for creating an emotional hook while also providing strong content. Employees have the ability to gain a sense of their role through audio, animation, interviews, graphics, and more. When organizations are in a hybrid environment, verbal cues can accommodate your digital team members by pointing out specific instances in videos or slides, increasing engagement and awareness for both audiences.
Hybrid Training is the Future of L&D
It is a fair assumption that the pandemic impacted traditional work environments for the foreseeable future, which means that hybrid is here to stay. Remote work is the new normal, so your training programs and L&D teams need to be equipped and prepared for hybrid environments. Although a blended learning model and hybrid environments are different, the technique behind the concept can work well. They involve in-person and digital audiences, methods to engage audiences (polls, surveys, whiteboards, etc.), along with flexible approaches to learning and collaboration.
A flexible learning environment is important for your organization now more than ever. A hybrid training environment requires more control and adaptability over the way trainings are conducted. Remember, training programs are only as strong as their facilitation, so focus on learner feedback and metrics to ensure your audience is engaged.
Most organizations got up and running in a fully digital or hybrid model out of necessity. Now that the pandemic is ending, it is time to really consider the future of your training programs and having in place a solid practice for hybrid employees. This includes everything from what technologies you have in place to your HR policies and leadership training. Consider the different roles throughout your company, and who benefits more from being in-person versus those who can solely work remotely. Most importantly, keep your company culture in the back of your mind at all times. Your culture and values are what will keep the people in place, whether you see them face-to-face or through a computer screen. Remember, your people are your best assets.