hybrid workplace
Training & Learning

How to Give Learners What They Want in a Hybrid Workplace

The hybrid workplace is here to stay for the foreseeable future—one study shows nine out of ten companies will be combining in-office and remote work. In the words of Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel Corporation, "there is no going back."

Hybrid workplaces change the learning landscape by bringing a brand-new set of challenges to Learning and Development. For example, hybrid work environments create scheduling issues because employees are both in the office and working from home, plus you may end up with employees who are working too far away to travel to the office for in-person training. Companies are also seeing an increased need for upskilling and retraining—Gartner says the number of skills required for a single job increases by 10% each year.

To get a sense of what this means for the future of learning in the workplace, we surveyed 600 US remote and on-site employees and asked them how they prefer to learn (you can get the full report, below). Their responses indicate that many companies need to make the following adjustments to their learning strategies.

learner survey

Rethink blended learning

To thrive in a hybrid workplace, L&D teams need to rethink their approach to blended learning. Traditional blended learning trickles information down from the instructor to the student, which skips over the benefits of Collaborative Learning, like increased knowledge retention and higher engagement. Moving to a hybrid workplace allows you to take a more practical approach to blended learning—instead of thinking of it as a mix of in-person or online training, figure out what training to provide synchronously and asynchronously.

Your synchronous training can be in the form of online sessions and collaborative workshops, and your asynchronous learning activities can include video sessions, quizzes sessions, and self-directed modules. Of course, you don’t have to stop in-person training sessions completely, but it no longer needs to be a mandatory training method. You can learn more about this new approach to blended learning in our on-demand webinar.

Instead of thinking of it as a mix of in-person or online training, figure out what training to provide synchronously and asynchronously.

Create physical collaborative workspaces

One of the benefits employees miss most about in-person working and learning is socializing. If going hybrid has left you with unused space in your office, you can repurpose that space by creating dedicated areas where employees can come together to exchange ideas and knowledge and participate in formal and informal training. Like co-working or breakout rooms, physical spaces can improve learning by making it more social and bolster culture by creating much-needed face-to-face time.

These “third spaces,” called that because they are places to work other than home or the traditional office space, can include whiteboards, large tables, and couches. They provide relief from sitting at a desk all day and add value by offering employees a comfortable place to develop relationships and get work done in a more creative atmosphere.

These spaces create a hub for fostering collaboration and creating the informal learning opportunities your employees want — in one study, nearly 60% of respondents said breakout spaces were indispensable for getting away from their desks to brainstorm and collaborate. Of the employees we surveyed, 54% want to learn from their manager, and 46% want to learn from their peers. Physical and virtual collaborative workspaces give you more options for making that happen.

An example of a company making this change is Adtrak, a digital marketing agency based in the UK, which re-configured its office by decluttering and removing 50 desks and used that space to add team-working spaces. This new area includes social spaces to encourage collaboration, areas for training, and videoconferencing technology that lets remote co-workers participate in what’s going on in those spaces.

Introduce interactive learning

We asked our learners what they think about their current course offerings—57% said their training options are sometimes irrelevant, dull, or too long, and 11% said they always miss the mark. Interactive learning—viewed positively by our respondents—can be more effective because it encourages active participation.

Interactive learning stimulates brain activity and better engages learners—your employees will learn more by being actively engaged than they will in a passive lecture environment. For example, in one study of STEM students, researchers found that active learning (group discussion or problem-solving, in-class worksheets...) led to a 6% average increase in exam scores. Remote-friendly active learning options like role-playing and group work provide distributed employees these same benefits of learning, even when they can’t attend in-person training sessions.

You can introduce interactive learning through group discussions, interaction with images and other media, or by including time for Q and A in courses. Interactive learning creates a real-life learning experience, unlike traditional classroom learning, and combats low course completion rates and video fatigue by encouraging discussion.

To make interactive learning work, your learners need to feel like they’re exploring and discovering new territory, not taking the SATs. You can incorporate interactive learning into your existing training by adding a discussion forum, gamifying your content by adding challenges to your courses, or including scenarios that learners can work through together. Tools like Genially make it easy to create interactive learning materials to add a feeling of exploration into your training.

gamification in the hybrid workplace
Gamification is just one way to bring interactivity to your courses.

Integrate learning into your flow of work

Learning in the flow of work is a concept introduced by L&D expert Josh Bersin. Learning this way means delivering learning opportunities as part of or in parallel to your employee’s tasks. Instead of multi-part training that takes people away from their job for long periods, this type of training is delivered in small chunks and made available on-demand. Information presented this way can be better retained, and this method works well in a hybrid workplace since it can be applied in an office and remotely.

We discovered that many learners we surveyed aren't able to devote enough time to their training. "I'm too busy to train" and "it's hard to find time during work hours" were two common responses. Incorporating training into the flow of work makes training less disruptive because employees don't have to abandon their tasks to learn.

To get started with this concept, find topics relevant to your employees’ immediate Learning Needs and create microlearning content. For example, find an existing course that refreshes a popular topic and break it down into five-minute chunks. To be considered microlearning, each microlearning course should be no more than 13 minutes long.

Incorporating training into the flow of work makes training less disruptive because employees don't have to abandon their tasks to learn.

Recognize the way your employees want to learn

L&D teams need to take a close look at employees to understand their learning preferences better. Launch a survey or training needs analysis to ask your employees how and where they want to learn. Look for clues on which parts of your training should be in-person and what training will be practical if self-directed or prerecorded. If you’re already using 360Learning, you can easily ask your employees what type of learning they want right inside the platform with our Learning Needs feature.