Corporate Learning Strategy: A Change is Coming

Corporate Learning Strategy: A Change is Coming

If you are like me, you work in the training industry, your inbox is quickly filling with headlines such as:

Corporate Training in the Wake of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Sustaining Your Training Strategies During COVID-19 Outbreak

Coronavirus, Learning, And Crisis Management…Opportunity Knocks

A New Training Reality: Where Do We Go from Here?

Using Virtual Reality to Keep Employee Training on Track During COVID-19 Pandemic

Look at Content, Training, Strategy and Learning Technology to Drive Productivity While Quarantined

Besides vendors selling their products and services, training thought-leaders, vendors, and users understand that training is unlikely to return to pre-social-distancing days. Even if we do not face another pandemic for a long, long time—let’s hope!—working remotely and our dependence on digital devices and the Internet will morph into a new training paradigm.

Change One: Less Business Travel

For one, business leaders and training professionals are finding that their business travel won’t likely return to what it was pre-quarantine. One result will include video conferencing taking the place of face-to-face meetings, live tradeshows and conferences, and in-person training events. Already, many eLearning development companies are basically saying, “Give us your instructor-led training (ILT) materials and we’ll quickly convert them into online learning.” Some organizations, particularly those which have not fully utilized eLearning, will go this route. (We will talk about the pros and cons of this approach in a later blog.) Fewer ILTs, less travel. Remote learning can be an excellent choice to keep employees training schedules on time. While this is bad news for the travel industries, organizations may soon realize cost-savings along with reduced training time when employees are unavailable and offline to do ILT training.

Change Two: Attitudes Toward Remote Working

The jury is still out regarding how people sent home to work remotely will do during this crisis. (Our heart goes out to those workers whose jobs cannot be done remotely—and there are millions in this worrisome, even dire situation.) Before the self-quarantine, though, more and more organizations were already seeing the value of remote work. For one, it offers a greater range of qualified applicants because geographical limitations are not a factor.

Almost three years ago, Stanford Graduate Business School professor Nicholas Bloom conducted a nearly two-year study and concluded that “requiring employees to be in the office is an outdated work tradition, set up during the Industrial Revolution. Such inflexibility ignores today’s sophisticated communications methods and long commutes, and actually hurts firms and employees.” Brown’s research showed an astounding productivity boost among the telecommuters, equivalent to a full day’s work per week. It turns out work-from-home employees work a true full-shift (or longer) versus regular commuters, who may run late to the office or leave early multiple times a week; more so, remote workers found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.  They took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off. Additionally (and incredibly), remote-employee attrition decreased by 50 percent. This doesn’t include the benefits of reduced carbon emissions from fewer autos clogging up the morning commute. Based on this sort of data, it’s clear how virtual ILTs (vILTs) and eLearning can take the place of certain live training events. Yes, there is an initial investment in moving training online, but, in the long run, the cost/benefit analysis will see a decrease in training expenses.

Change Three: Advances in Learning Technology

The features and functions of course-authoring tools and learning management systems (LMS) are no longer behind the times. Courses can be designed and developed in less time, producing a more interactive and engaging learner experience. The better LMSes do tons more than simply launch and track online courses. They provide gamification elements (e.g., badges for course completion or leader boards for the most diligent learners) and collaborative learning (e.g., vILTs, wikis, discussion boards; even social media features like feeds, blogs, and comments). Given the time-savings provided by better technology, the cost per course typically goes down.

Change Four: They’re on Their Phones, Anyway

According to recent surveys, 80% of people use smartphones. More and more companies are shifting toward mobile learning. And here’s why. Seventy-two percent of smartphone users reported increased engagement with mobile learning, while nearly half of the users reported completing courses faster than those who took the modules on their computer.

The Future Is Now

Given these many changes, once this time of home quarantine ends, among the initiatives that many organizations need to rethink is their training strategy. For some, looking at training from a strategic view is long overdue, regardless of current circumstances. Organizations that fail to plan with these changes in mind likely will fall back on face-to-face and other traditional training out of habit and so miss the opportunity that presents itself. Progressive organizations, however, will take into consideration changing attitudes and advances in learning technologies to augment their learning strategy.

Larry Bograd is Senior Director, Product Development at Syntrio, Inc. He is a twenty-year veteran of the training industry, serving as a learning consultant, director of content strategy, senior instructional designer, and scriptwriter. At Syntrio, he directs its Business Skills Library. He may be reached at lbograd@syntrio.com.

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