For all the professional and personal challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also afforded us a valuable pause. A valuable pause to rethink and reevaluate what we consider commonplace and usual. Corporate training and learning is no exception. COVID-19 will have fundamental impact on all aspects of corporate learning – both what is critical and important to learn and how to learn in the age of “everything virtual.”
Let’s focus first on what areas are critical for companies to invest in learning and upskilling. While this list is by no means exhaustive, a few key areas include:
All work processes will go digital in an accelerated fashion. A company that is not able to transform digitally today is equivalent to a company that was not able to automate its processes in the last century –quickly relegated to obscurity. Every employee must be digitally savvy and adept to using tools for productivity, collaboration, social engagement, and project management. It will also be important to understand how to appropriately use mobile devices and leverage video as communication throughout company functions, and for employees at all levels to understand the basics of problem determination relative to connectivity and device security.
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Agility at the core of work
With remote distributed teams, work processes need to be fundamentally agile. The practice is not restricted to software development, it will include all functions, from marketing and sales forecast to the strategic planning unit, and call on those teams to restructure processes in order to adapt quickly to coming change. Core to agile methods are empowered teams that make considered decisions, continuously evaluate results, and tune their approach accordingly. Agile also involves adopting a matrixed team mentality, as opposed to an inflexible hierarchy. As we look to our new distributed workforce, it will be essential for all employees to understand agility and be able to participate and lead agile work processes.
Data Centric Culture
With most employees working remotely the performance of individuals and teams, as well as outcomes of initiatives, have to be more objectively measurable. Data Science and Analytics will play more important roles in determining what a “good employee” looks like. There is less opportunity for “face time” with your directors, meaning both leaders and managers must become experts in harnessing the power of well managed data in the organization. Moving forward, we will see more critical decisions made based on dispassionate data, rather than how loud a voice is in the room.
Inclusive Leadership and Engagement
While the increasing need for data and digital skills is apparent, COVID-19 has not make us robots. Meaningful work will still have a strong emotional component. Leaders must consider how to create an inclusive culture that transcends physical distance, as well as how they can keep employees engaged without a physical daily connection. These are new age leadership challenges(Training ). Motivation and engagement are key to success, therefore learning and training that provides the tools and know-how to bring those qualities to an organization will be more critical than ever before.
Beyond the key areas of investment detailed above, it will also be important for leadership to consider the fundamental changes needed as to how learning is delivered. The most fundamental include:
A rich, blended learning experience
Much of corporate learning spend still happens in expensive face-to-face instruction. COVID-19 makes that impossible, or at least extremely inconvenient. With a pivot to online training, learning platforms are responsible for providing an increasingly rich, blended learning experience to meet modern needs. By combining learning modalities, including videos, books, audio and text, alongside a variety of learning synchronicity options like self-paced and virtual live, an organization will be able to tap into how every employee learns best. This also provides to opportunity for users to leverage micro-learning modules that work with their schedules to develop in-depth expertise.
Learning in the flow of work
With virtual work expanding into more and more of our days, the punctuation between work and life is disintegrating. Learning needs to be removed from its own island. Learning platforms should behave in a manner such that education becomes a part of work and happens seamlessly as and when needed. This requires integration of learning with dominant work tools like email and team-based tools and the use of AI to inject learning opportunities into daily work in an unobtrusive way.
Beyond daily work, the professional onboarding process will continue to be altered as a result of the pandemic. Selecting candidates for an open job role or a project team member internally is becoming a digital process. The classic 45-minute interview will be reserved for a finalist, while initial filtration will occur based on verifiable digital credentials. A degree from an institution can serve as evidence of basic fitness, but provable digital credentials will become more important determinants of qualification. Learning platforms must support this lifecycle of proof, which includes reputable and objective assessments, capstoned by a digital credential(Training).
Like all major crises, COVID-19 has caused serious disruption. But with that, it has brought an opportunity to reinvent corporate learning for the next century. The future has been trending digital for years, and the pandemic has pushed forward individuals and organizations to question traditions and begin reworking practices to meet the needs of new work environment.
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