The Great Reboot and workplace training. Why and how L&D must fan their train.*

The Great Reboot is the headline Reuters uses to describe the shifts accelerated by the pandemic and the tagline reads "How companies and countries are reimagining the way we work, live and play". After more than a year of working at home companies are rethinking their office policies and consequently their workplace training effort. Many companies plan to allow at least some remote work, but also some have resisted establishing a hybrid workplace.

What do you think? Do you believe hybrid work will shrink office or maintain its appeal in the long run? Or, are you more a "people want to be seen as though they're part of the game, and there's not a game out there that you can win if you're not on the field," type?

The employee journey - under the management of HR - is directly impacted and - I hope - most of our HR top management have a seat at the table to drive these work policies also from a user (employee) centric perspective. It's a numbers game (days of the week, % at the office, square meters), a tech game (flexible workspace technologies) but it is equally a people's game, or at least it should be.

As learning, training, and development professionals these policies have a direct impact on the way concepts like classroom, on-the-job, e-learning take hold. Anybody involved in workplace training and should therefore be ready to experiment. "Such experiments are likely to go for months, the experts said, as leaders and staff members work to harmonize and fine-tune the new workplace."

Here are the three workplace models our 3 insights to experiment with workplace training and consequently stay ahead.

Back to the office - full on

This might seem a familiar concept, one that requires the least amount of creativity. But it would be a mistake to close your eyes to the fact that the old conventions of office work have faded and worker expectations have shifted. You as leaders and managers have a complex assignment: you must turn the challenge into an advantage, profit, and impact. In other words, there is no going back to how it was before, how comfortable that thought might be.

The tricky part here is that we tend to focus on the social part: people getting back together is so much craved and therefore seems the only way to go. The thing is though: your employees have changed one way or another and they expect different things. Especially in the long(er) run. Doing the same things in a classroom setting will - eventually - be as boring as it was before and people will be quick to realize that...

Experiment

Start experimenting with bringing real-life situations into the classroom by introducing VR headsets into the classroom. Same bricks, same setting, same coffee, but now enriched because you can use multiple scenarios, multiple settings, multiple role-plays, variation in actors (diversity!) and you can deepen the learning experience by using the performance data from the VR experience right there on the spot.

The other thing this will allow you to provide is a learning space instead of a performance space, which will ultimately improve retention and a learning environment as a whole.

Hybrid

This is where most energy, innovation, and thought are being put in at the moment. Leaders are trying to figure out the new rules of workplace engagement and it's a tough nut to crack because of the lack of experience in the area for most of them. It's the balancing act of getting the best of both worlds while still having legacy bricks, IT infrastructure, and culture weighing in.

In the midst of all these dynamics and dynamite, the high-level policy trickles down on how learning, training, and development operate. The aim stays the same, but the employee journey changed: shifted behavior, shifted tools, shifted perception of time. Why spend the proverbial 1.5 hours in traffic to arrive at a mediocre conference room with a bad-humored trainer and your “lovely” colleagues after which you have to spend another 2 hours to get home.

Experiment

The experimentation here is a little trickier because you might find yourself in one big experiment as it is so why and how to pile up another one... where the people around you might also question feasibility (being too futuristic). The move here is what we have seen work is to make it small. You want to show value in the midst of all things already happening. You want to show usability, ease of use, and you want to show it comes from a user-centered approach, producing real results in confidence, efficiency, and retention.

Introducing Virtual Reality into the mix can be daunting because of the heavy on hardware appearance and because of the resources investment for the development of content. Make it easy on yourself: use off-the-shelf content, buy a couple of headsets but also show tablet / mobile phone /cardboard possibilities. It will broaden people's minds to start seeing VR as part of the puzzle now and not in the future. Like how Erste Bank first started.

How workplace training is done at Erste Bank

Fully Remote

Companies who were already without an office, to begin with, had to invest in online material to make it work and therefore operate in calm waters. The challenge here is to feel too comfortable with the perceived "being at the cutting" edge, while in reality that edge has already been moved... Having a Learning Experience Platform for example puts you in a good position to stay ahead but only if you are wide awake and embrace the innovations happening in unexpected places.

Experiment

Your organization is more likely than others prone to take on new things, to discover new ways to learn better, faster, and with more impact. You might have already done some POCs, pilots (or other terms for trying stuff out) around Virtual Reality and learning. When you are ready for the next step of implementation and even making VR training business as usual... Don't hesitate. The tech is ready and when the mindset is there too, you can show how learning by experience is done. At scale.

Want to chat to pick our brain? Reach out via guido@warpvr.com.

*PS “fan their train” is a little peacock reference 🦚, inviting everyone involved to take charge, to show themselves and not to be afraid of experimenting.

FAN YOUR TRAIN!

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