Create your own online classroom: why digital learning and development is the future in the hybrid world of work

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The shift to hybrid working has prompted many businesses to take their training offerings online. Here’s why that’s good news for employers and employees alike

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we work, the way we do business, and the way we grow and learn. After many months of lockdowns, employers and employees around the world have realised the benefits of the hybrid approach: a model that allows people to work from wherever best suits their needs.

Often, this means combining time at home, time spent at the company HQ and time spent at a location near home, such as a nearby flexible workspace.

At the same time as reviewing their real-estate and talent strategies, firms are also looking to move their training and career development programmes online. This move is vital in a world where not all staff will be at the office all the time: it democratises access to learning materials and experiences so that all staff have equal access to them.

During the past year, big businesses including IMB and Google have fully digitised their learning and development (L&D) offerings. Meanwhile, IWG – the company that operates flexible workspace brands including Regus and Spaces – has launched the IWG Academy, which will enable its 12,000+ employees to upskill remotely.

Upskilling for the future

According to PwC’s 22nd CEO Survey, 79% of CEOs around the world feel concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforce threatened the future growth of their organisations. Meanwhile, 46% of CEOs said upskilling was the most important initiative to help close the skills gap in their company.

A study conducted by Training Industry magazine showed that 62% of businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic are spending more on training in 2021, with a 24% spike in virtual learning.

For businesses, there are numerous benefits to moving your training programmes online. It saves precious work time (no more travelling to and from learning centres), reduces running costs and enables people to learn at their own pace.

For small firms who can’t bear the cost of creating their own digital platforms, it might make sense to consider a reputable third party provider. Marketing Week’s Mini MBA, for example, is an online course that enthusiastic marketeers can complete in their own time, from wherever suits them best.

Live online learning and asynchronous experiences

“Creating meaningful and effective online education is by no means an easy task,” says online learning designer and education expert, Brandon Jordan. While there are numerous ways of conducting online training, most fall into two camps: asynchronous learning, where sessions come pre-recorded and allow employees to work at their own pace, and synchronous learning or ‘live online’ sessions that are more like in-person lessons, held virtually.

The beauty of using either is the wide scope they offer. Courses can incorporate video presentations and interactive content, plus they can be easily adapted and updated on demand.

“One core principle is that people matter,” says Jordan. “While technology has enabled so many remarkable things, behind even the best tech is still a person.”

Balancing L&D spending

It’s worth noting that, according to research by Dr Brent Peterson, the effectiveness of training courses is largely down to three main factors – 25% from the learning event, 25% from how prepared the individual is and 50% from the follow-up activities.

Unfortunately, Peterson’s study also showed that many companies are only investing 10% of their budgets in pre-learning tasks and spending just 5% on post-training activities. By failing to plan L&D programmes with Peterson’s findings in mind, firms are placing too heavy a burden on employees’ engagement with the events or experiences themselves.

Designing training courses that aren’t so reliant on individuals’ engagement with specific talks, videos or tasks is therefore a critical part of creating a modern L&D strategy.

Hybrid learning in a hybrid world

While the pandemic has no doubt accelerated the rocketing popularity of online training, there’s still a place for face-to-face learning.

Remote L&D can have its challenges – from home technology issues to low levels of interaction with training staff. While some individuals may prefer online learning, others might find the self-directed nature of some training courses difficult and struggle to motivate themselves.

What’s also worth remembering is that it’s vital to ensure digitised training experiences are designed to be truly inclusive: materials must be accessible for those with disabilities and additional needs. Putting a resource on the internet only goes so far when it comes to broadening participation.

Arguably, the ideal learning and development solution mirrors the hybrid approach many companies are now taking when it comes to where their employees are based. A mixture of interactive or face-to-face training experiences and self-directed learning courses offers people the best of both worlds, and could be the way forward in the new world of work.

Finally, whether you’re a home worker or spend much of your time at the office, having access to a flexible workspace such as your local Regus might help you find your groove when it comes to upskilling online. With business-grade WiFi, comfortable surroundings, a professional atmosphere and – perhaps most crucially – good coffee, a coworking or flexspace location could be the ideal base for a day of distance learning.

With locations in thousands of neighbourhoods all over the world, find out how Regus can help your business thrive in the new, hybrid world of work.