Today, all progressive and human-valuing businesses are questioning how to move forward with learning and development during a time of social distancing. While context is out of control for literally all of us, business models are evolving and hence, new capabilities must be mastered.
With food places concentrating on call centers & delivery channels, television shows using zoom and skype as an alternate to their ultra-expensive recording gadgets and employee training and development going classroom and travel free and exploring new frontiers of digital breakout rooms and other interactivity tools.
These examples demonstrate our agility but to be honest, the use of these resources may not have happened if they hadn’t been born out of necessity.
Necessity is the mother of invention. May be true. But it certainly is the most important force behind our agility. In times of necessity, learning new ways of doing things and aptly sharing it with colleagues provides competitive advantage.
I am aware of business models, and how such agility may be easy for a 200-person IT firm and not so pleasant for a 13000-person power generation company. But again – we have to start somewhere.
We have 2 types of organizations, those who had experience and capability of learning virtually and those who had limited/no experience and/or capability of learning virtually.
It will surely need efforts. Dedicated, non-exaggerated efforts. For companies who have been working toward virtual training options, they are now getting hold of things, and business is gradually back to normal. I am not talking about organizations who think Learning and Development is a cost they can easily let go. I sincerely pray for mental wellbeing of such leaders and organizations – and I wish them all the best for retaining employees and sustaining growth in the long run.
But virtual learning shift will need efforts. In general, I’m not talking about the more static learning platforms. I’ve seen clients buying access from global e-learning module providers and witnessing the investment go in drain. We need to understand that those curated, static and practically robotic programs are helpful for building foundational, base knowledge when learners pull that content off the virtual “shelf”. However, virtual learning needs to be humanized.
Microlearning modules are important. They are important to push out a targeted lesson: Wash your hands, safety measures, installing software, quick tips for email writing, etc. These are incredibly helpful to deliver targeted messages, and can be rolled out quickly across a variety of channels. We worked with a bank on 5 steps to engage your teams virtually and it was very well received.
It’s strongly recommended method to talk about values and share competency frameworks. It’s also a great way for leaders to deliver personal messages about how they are adapting to working from home, while responding to young children’s virtual schoolwork questions.
Virtual learning must be a human-centered experience. The benefits of the virtual learning is beyond adaptability and cost-saving. It’s the future. But it must be done right. The idea is that participants engage with thought-leaders and each other in real-time, entirely virtually! Treat it like a regular workshop with 20-30 participants with tools like Breakout Rooms and Polls enhancing human connect. This ensures robust dialogue amongst all participants with the facilitator and each other.
Those one-sided webinars are never effective for learning. Those can only be used for showcasing a product. Period.
For companies who had not previously worked with virtual learning, we empathize! But the good news is that the shift is possible and easy. And it’s not a compromise. The benefits of virtual learning are immense. Here are top 3 benefits:
- Sustaining the Growth Momentum: Business can’t wait until offices reopen. Virtual learning option allows you to sustain the growth momentum. I recently worked with a client in rolling out the Performance Feedback program. This was critical for the calibration exercise, that could simply not way for offices to re-open as usual. We worked with them to ensure that their important learning points were delivered on-time, as planned, but through virtual learning. The best thing was that the Feedback about Performance Feedback was overwhelming.
- Cost Smart: Here’s a practical observation. A client of ours recently witnessed a 35% cut in training budget. What amazed me is that it literally had no effect on their training plan. In fact, they were able to do more with it, as there was no “Other Cost” involved. Now I know it’s not a pleasant read for people in hospitality and travel industries, but then, this is an article about virtual learning! Travel, accommodations, and food has been a major component of learning budget. Fortunately, the fat is removed. Now you can do training, while people sleep on their own bed, eat their own food while learning in a group. Isn’t that cool. Here, let us not forget about the time saved. Travel days take a large cut of productive work time, no matter how well you try to manage your time. Virtual learning adds value in terms of saving time!
- Borderless Possibilities: Virtual learning more easily remove barriers geographies. In last 2 months, I’ve conducted sessions in the USA, Canada, Africa and Australia, without any trace or stamp on my passport. Isn’t that cool. Imagine doing it for your organization. Best of the best experts are now accessible. It’s just a matter of connecting with them. Thinking global is so much possible now. This powerful sharing of best practices and ideas, carefully managed through effective learning platform enhances perspectives and capabilities.
The best part of virtual learning is that it provides a way forward even amidst the most unprecedented times. As you get going, Learning Minds is here to provide you with expertise in strategy, leadership, innovation, soft-skills, project management, communication, virtually.