6 Steps For Designing A Hybrid Training Plan
Despite its recent rise, remote work isn’t a new concept. Neither is online training. But they quickly became the standard during the pandemic. Companies have had a chance to see how flexible work and training options benefit them and their employees. As they head back to the office, many are shifting to a hybrid workplace, letting employees choose to work in-office or remotely.
A new working model means new best practices, including when it comes to employee development. If a hybrid work model is here to stay, training needs to be adapted to match.
Creating a consistent, quality training experience for all your employees, no matter where they work from, can be challenging. In this article, we’ll look at why you should update your training strategy. We’ll also help you get started with a step-by-step guide for developing a successful hybrid training program.
Why Flexible Work Models Need Flexible Training
Does training in a hybrid workplace really need to be updated from what was working before? Especially if you were already using remote training as part of your strategy?
The answer is yes.
Hybrid work is different from traditional in-office work. The way employees learn, and what they need to learn, should look different, too. Consider these reasons to update your Learning and Development strategy:
- Employees need equal access to quality training
Teams may be split between remote and in-office workers. It can be challenging to provide both groups with meaningful and consistent training. You need training that benefits all your employees—no matter where they work from.
- New tools mean it’s time to upskill
Technology made the shift to remote work possible. Messaging apps, email, task management software, and online LMS platforms keep everyone in touch and productive. Your employees need to be up to speed with the tools you use so they can contribute their best work.
- Core competencies are changing
The new way of working has created an emphasis on different skills. Manual jobs are becoming more automated, and employees will need to be ready with more technical and soft skills. Research shows that skills like communication and social and emotional competition will matter more going forward.
- A truly flexible work culture includes training
Employees everywhere now see a flexible workplace as an attractive benefit. Adopting a hybrid work model implies you have a flexible company culture to support it. Training should follow that concept as well.
Hybrid work is all about keeping a competitive edge in today’s market. It supports employee well-being and increases productivity and revenue. Moving to a more flexible work model means updating your Learning and Development strategy. So where do you start?
Steps For Building A Successful Hybrid Training Program
Revamping your approach to training can seem overwhelming. But if you know where to focus, getting started is actually fairly straightforward. Here are 6 steps to take as you consider how to build or adjust your training program for a hybrid workforce:
1. Assess Your Training Needs
While remote work is now common across all industries, hybrid work looks different for every organization. The skills and knowledge your employees need to keep your company running smoothly may not be obvious from the start.
Begin by running a skill gap analysis to review your current—and future—training needs. Learn what skills you’ll need in your industry. And take the opportunity to find out what skills your employees want to learn or feel they need for their jobs. Ask about how and where they prefer to learn. Use their feedback to help guide the content you offer, but also how you deliver it.
Failing to provide the right content can leave you with a skill gap even after training. Start by assessing your needs. Then plan your training to fit those needs. Revisit the process on a regular basis to keep content relevant to your teams and your company goals.
2. Focus On Soft Skills For Hybrid Work
Remote work can sometimes be a barrier to teamwork. Soft skills like communication, time management, and collaboration are especially important to overcome obstacles. Distributed teams don’t have the casual interactions in-office employees enjoy every day. Less interaction means less impromptu problem-solving and collaboration, and it can be easy for people to settle into their “work bubble” and forget to reach out.
Teamwork and inclusion are important elements of a productive company and workplace culture employees want to be a part of. Focus on skills that help people work together and feel valued in your organization.
3. Update Your Leadership Training
Leading hybrid teams requires a different approach. Help team managers out by providing training in the skills they need to reach their employees and keep work moving forward.
For example, in a traditional work environment, tracking progress and offering solutions often happen organically as managers walk around the office and check in with employees. When leaders don’t see people at work, they often don’t seek opportunities to share the same kind of guidance and feedback. You can help remedy the problem by including skills for setting expectations and holding people accountable in your leadership training going forward.
It can also be easy for leaders to give less attention to remote workers compared to those who work from the office. Prevent an “us versus them” mentality by emphasizing inclusion. Teach leaders how to give employees, no matter where they are, an equal chance to contribute their voices.
4. Rethink Blended Learning To Support Team Building
Even if you’re already training employees online, it’s time to reassess your mix of in-person and self-paced learning. You most likely need to cut back on in-person training. And that means you need to be strategic about how and when you use live sessions.
Isolation is a big issue when you’ve got a hybrid workforce. Use your in-person or live online training sessions to get people interacting. Take advantage of the time to have employees work together. Focus your synchronous training on building relationships and taking advantage of group learning.
This might mean including online sessions and collaborative workshops that let people try out the skills. Or, holding discussions that encourage them to learn and get feedback from one another. These kinds of activities promote learning and retention. They also establish a sense of teamwork and encourage collaboration.
5. Offer Training That Fits The New Workflow
As mentioned earlier, live online training is great for distributed teams, as they get the chance to interact even from a distance. But this shouldn’t be the only way to train remote employees.
When employees are spread across locations and even work different hours, your flow of work is going to change. Build training that fits the new pace and working hours.
For instance, make part of your training available on demand so people can engage when and where it makes sense for them. Finding consistent time during work for training can be a challenge for both in-office and remote workers. Let people log in when they have time to focus instead of taking them away from crucial work. Employees will be able to give the content more attention, and they’ll retain more of what they learn.
You should also consider using microlearning to boost engagement and retention. Breaking training into small chunks makes it easier to access. And people remember more of what they learn when they can focus on a single concept at a time.
6. Invest In The Right Delivery Methods
You need a robust remote LMS to support virtual and blended learning strategies. Look for a platform with a simple User Interface. It should be seamless for employees to log in and complete their training. It should be just as easy for administrators to drop in content and get training rolling. Consider these features as well:
- Find a solution that can handle both live and self-paced learning. Make it easy for employees to complete both types of training by giving them one sign-in experience for everything.
- Choose a platform that can handle various media types. Things like videos, presentations, and infographics make training more engaging and memorable.
- Finally, focus on interactive features. Make sure your LMS lets you build in elements like quizzes and tests or assignments. Engaging with the screen helps learners stay motivated during their training.
Update Your Training For The Future Of The Hybrid Workplace
Offering a flexible work model also means being agile in your employee development strategy. Training is not a one-time event. You want to keep developing employees going forward. And it’s just as important for you to assess and adjust your training periodically.
The working landscape has evolved to fit changing world circumstances. And it will continue to do so, which means upskilling and reskilling should be constants in your L&D strategy. Start now by preparing your teams to adapt to and thrive in a hybrid workplace—and whatever comes next.