We all agree that virtual training has taken a more prominent role after the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to play in the learning landscape in the aftermath. Covid-19 has truly accelerated digital transformation and has forced business and teams to work with a new reality, the one that will be here to stay for a long time. I don’t think transformation is still a buzzword, it has become a necessity, a strategic priority in business.
Internally, as a training services provider we have been confronted with huge challenges that affected our operations and continuity. Every single face-to-face training program was cancelled overnight directly after the outbreak in March. After months of hard work and thanks to the trust and commitment of our employees, partners and customers, we have digitised our training offering. This allowed us to still continue to work with our customers and stimulate their employees in their personal development on a remote basis. We can truly say this unexpected transformation has kept us in the game and forced us to act differently and come up with new, valuable initiatives for the years to come.
In the HR industry we noticed another major impact of the crisis besides next to the transformation: an improved company culture and employee engagement. Despite the closure of our offices, working from home overnight, the health implications and restrictions, the vacuum has forced us to appreciate the things employees were still able and allowed to do: to interact and learn with colleagues virtually. Employees were able to digest content better and take the time to reflect and come up with relevant questions or spot-on improvements. Because the ‘fast-moving train’ came to a sudden standstill and decided to force us to get back on our feet and do things differently and organise remote drinks and even remote fitness or yoga sessions with colleagues.
I think it makes sense that this new reality creates trust and transparency too amongst colleagues. Willis Towers Watson found that 90% of companies believe their culture has improved.
Organisations used to move and adapt slower than individuals, but that is over now. We have proven to be resilient and adaptive to change. Let’s exploit that!
"We have proven to be resilient and adaptive to change."
For your learning organisation it is important to be aware of the underlying 6 reasons to further tap into the benefits of virtual learning.
The daily commute to our work is costing us usually a lot of time, money and energy. In several cases it can take us hours per day. Overall full-time employees were spending at least 30-50% of their time at work which has completely changed their existing routine. Most likely for good. Precious time that we are now able to invest in our family, our personal development and to have a more balanced life then ever before.
"In this renewed work setting people want to learn about the crisis, their future, and what they can do to stay onboard."
We are doing things clearly different than before as we have changed our routines. Extensive travelling, staying over in hotels for training and sitting down in lengthy meetings in the office is no more. It’s bringing more efficiency to the workplace. Working from home is a new practice and the majority of employers are supporting this development. I still think the social component and camaraderie of the office needs to be part of the weekly activity mix for any employee, it’s the cement of our working lives and culture.
"The real-life social component and camaraderie of the office still needs to be part of our weekly activity mix."
Leaders have found themselves struggling with flattening revenues development and even reported 50-80% or higher loss in revenues in certain markets such as hospitality and tourism. But the creativity of the employees and their resilience have transitioned the executive to a more human and empathic kind of leader that is accepting the new normal and making the business better to work on a better future and more sustainable operation. Learning has become a critical part of the culture within organisations and leaders have now even more than before the opportunity to develop their employees and the impact they will have on the customers.
Nowadays, we all have the same starting grid whilst everybody is working from home and to communicate digitally, which will be here to stay. The automatic pilot behaviour in offices has pulled us out of our creativity and allows us now to listen to our customers more carefully and think about how we can help them in the best way possible. It is not for nothing that Gallup reported pre-crisis that we were dealing with a global engagement crisis. Virtual learning programs can be better integrated and consumed and can be better tailored to our customers needs. Employees have become more balanced and were already used to consuming content digitally pre-crisis.
The crisis has forced executives to make faster decisions and to transform in a way that has never been seen before. Remote collaboration, the increased transparency has helped us to cut out more irrelevant information and useless meetings and come to the point faster. The benefit of digital learning that it can give different employees from let’s say marketing and sales a consistent and better aligned online curriculum. The borders between individual departments have disappeared and the thresholds have lowered down.
It is very easy to think virtual learning will directly reap results and help every company, team or individual. That’s an utopia. It’s very important to know the needs and wants of the learning audience and teams. Techies are for instance more used to digital learning than field sales reps and do require a more factual approach than storytelling. A combination with effective communication platforms and learning can help to differentiate more and help your biggest asset to ride the waves of this global pandemic. One thing is certain, now it’s the time to get started.
“It’s very important to know the needs and wants of the learning audience and teams.”