Learning and Development – Transformation and Evolution in the Times of COVID-19
As the world faces an unprecedented situation with more than 20% of the world either in a lockdown or restricted from moving freely, we believe the aftermath of this humanitarian crisis is yet to be fully witnessed. Businesses of all sizes have put the health and well-being of their workforce first and rightly so. However, bigger, metamorphic decisions about the financial impact of the ongoing crises are looming and a more austere 2020 second and third quarter might be in the offing. The same would apply to the Learning and Development team’s world over.
At this time, we started a dialogue with our experts spread across the world and some of our customers about how this change will impact L&D priorities and how far into the future should we think about. There was significant optimism about the subsequent ability of all organizations to bounce back in a matter of 3 or a maximum of 6 months to full training calendars and business as usual. However, not without caution.
What Experts Predict
Most L&D experts predicted that the way we work, learn, and adapt will have significantly adapted and evolved post COVID-19 and forever. Globally, organizations and people would have learned lessons about the human ability to work in physical isolation while remaining technologically connected in a way we never thought was possible. Organizations and employees would have built trust and tools for an efficient distributed workforce, given that it would be the new normal. This would mean new training topics, new skills, and a whole paradigm shift.
However, experts warned that our learner groups, especially corporate consumers of learning, are overwhelmed with the expectations from home and office right now. Most are sharing workstations with family and require ergonomic furniture and secluded work areas. They are constantly on the phone or chat windows with their remote team members who may often be used to in-person communication until now. Constant anxiety about the doom and gloom in the outside world is distracting them. This is reducing their appetite to formally learn through structured interventions. What we should not discount is that there is a “learning fatigue”. They are learning too much, in too little time and have really done well and adapted quite well.
So, does this mean we will not be learning or developing any while we are away? Not immediately but this will change.
Look Before You Leap
Here are a few suggestions that we collated and hope can help you.
Long-term vs. short-term priorities: Building stop-gap training to substitute classrooms can be a short-term solution and unavoidable to keep essential onboarding activities going. Rushed solutions can be just so basic that when it is business as usual, you might be stuck with a lot of what you cannot use. Set yourself a budget. Setting a budget will help you prioritize and evaluate requirements critically.
Collaborate with the business: Reach out to the business department heads, attend some of their business briefings, and look for training support they might need due to the changed circumstances. An important subject has been about dealing with long work hours and stress in this new context. Not all training needs to be unwieldy, simple solutions and on-the-job support can be all that can make a difference sometimes. Connecting people and documenting and sharing best practices across teams at this time can do wonders.
Use technology but judiciously – Convert ILTs to a blended solution with vILT at its heart. While some of the training can be elearning, continue to have a few hours with the trainer so the quick fix solution can remain as robust as it was meant to be and trainers can add the essential human connect. MPSi is converting a suite of vILT training to suit a newly adopted collaborative platform during the crisis.
Bring value-added, aspirational projects forward – Look at value-added activities that you have always wanted to do but not had the time to focus on, and bring them forward. For example,
These are only some of the outcomes from our discussions with our customers and experts. We look forward to hearing from you – how you have adapted and what support can we provide you.
– By Anisha Chauhan, VP – Learning Design at MPS Interactive Systems