The pandemic has completely changed our approach to how we go about our work lives. Employees who were once reluctant to work from home are now more accustomed to doing their jobs from the comfort of their own homes. In response, businesses have been forced to adapt their training methods and workplace culture to accommodate a more hybrid workforce.
The new normal is here, and it’s time to embrace it. Remote work can be a wonderful thing for both employees and employers if done right, as it gives workers more flexibility with their schedules, helps companies reduce overhead costs, and can even be of great benefit to the environment.
However, it also comes with some risks: the lack of face-to-face interactions can make it harder for managers to provide support and stay on top of employee performance metrics.
This is where a proper hybrid workplace strategy comes into play.
As the workforce continues to evolve, so do the needs of organizations. A recent survey found that more than 66% of executives said their company will have a hybrid workplace model in place within the near future while 80% of workers are looking forward to working from home at least thrice a week.
Strategies for Hybrid Workplace Training
When a company shifts to a hybrid workplace environment, it can be challenging to create training programs that meet the needs of the entire workforce. Remote workers may feel isolated from their colleagues in the office and miss out on opportunities to build relationships that would help them thrive in their roles.
Employees who are back in the office may wonder if working remotely is an option for them as well. Whether you’re training new hires or educating current employees to keep up with new technology, here are seven strategies for creating an effective hybrid workplace training program:
1. Evaluate Your Training Needs
The first step in building an effective hybrid training program is to evaluate the needs of your workforce. Are they asking for more training? Are there skills gaps? Is it time to update training programs? This information should guide your decision-making process as you decide which topics to cover.
Consider using surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews to gather feedback from employees about their specific training needs. Feel free to take a look at recent performance reviews for feedback about specific performance issues that need improvement.
You can also use pre- and post-training assessments to identify skill gaps for new hires or for existing employees who need training on new processes or procedures. This information can then be used to build out a comprehensive learning plan that helps meet the organization’s goals.
A training program should be flexible enough so that everyone can participate. You don’t want to schedule a class at 9 a.m. if half of your employees are working remotely that day. It’s also important to make sure that remote workers have access to the same tools and resources as in-office employees so that they can participate equally in all activities.
2. Prioritize Soft Skills
How do you stay competitive in a fast-changing world? For the short term, it’s by managing projects and executing processes well. In the long term, however, it’s by training your employees to learn new skills and adapt to new situations.
In a traditional work setting, this means focusing on technical training and workplace skills such as sales techniques or new software. But as more companies are adopting remote work arrangements, they’re realizing that there’s a critical component that can get overlooked—soft skills.
Soft skills are critical in both the physical and virtual workplace. They include things like teamwork, communication, leadership, problem-solving, and empathy.
3. Don’t Forget Leadership Training
The on-the-job training of the past, where a new employee would work alongside a more experienced colleague and learn by example, is not possible with remote work. Instead, workplace learning must be formalized, with a structured system and training materials designed to foster skill development.
Where do you start? For most organizations, leadership development is the foundation of any learning program. It’s one of the most effective ways to boost productivity and increase employee satisfaction. But it’s also critical to ensure that your leaders are prepared for the shift toward hybrid work.
Interpersonal skills are essential for leaders in any organization, but they are especially important when working with a distributed workforce. For optimal results, take a holistic approach that focuses on collaboration and communication skills and touches on mental health, stress management, and diversity training.
4. Cut Back on In-Person Training
In-person training can be difficult to organize and requires a lot of time and resources, especially with a distributed workforce. Consider cutting back on in-person sessions and instead supplement with digital training tools.
Instead of dedicating an entire day for in-person instruction, which can be draining for employees, you might consider pairing a short, virtual session with on-demand access to online training content. This way, your employees are getting the benefits of live instruction along with the flexibility of online courses.
On top of that, online courses make it easier for employees to take a refresher or a supplemental course than in-person training does. If you are worried about not being able to refresh all your employees on important information in a timely manner, consider investing in online courses that will allow them to revisit important topics at their convenience.
5. Customize Training Based on Roles
It is not just the training topics that need to be customized based on roles. The format of the training must also be tailored to suit roles.
For instance, salespeople who spend most of their time interacting with prospects and customers need shorter training sessions. This is because they will not be able to spend long hours in training sessions that take them away from their core functions.
On the other hand, employees whose primary roles involve learning new skills or using new software would benefit more if they were trained through longer programs spread over a few days or even weeks.
6. Encourage Self-Directed Learning
Self-directed learning is a great way to empower employees to take the lead in their development. This means that employees are free to choose the content they want to learn, when they want to learn it, and how they want to learn it.
By allowing employees to build their own training programs, you can create a supportive environment where learners can explore their interests and passions with company resources.
When learners are given freedom to explore on their own, they’re more likely to be engaged in the learning process and grow their skills in a way that benefits both themselves and the organization.
Hybrid workplace training allows you to provide learners with all the necessary resources for them to succeed at self-directed learning. You can offer a wide variety of digital courses that cover a broad spectrum of topics while also offering live workshops where learners can ask questions and have discussions with other participants.
7. Encourage Interactions
You can help your employees develop their skills by helping them practice with each other as well as with an instructor. In addition to acting as a source of useful information, this also helps build morale and bonding among your employees.
The Final Word
Whether your organization is transitioning to a remote or hybrid workplace, or you are considering it, you will need to train your employees on how best to function in that kind of environment.
Most employees don’t have the experience they need to navigate the challenges of working remotely. That’s why training and development planning is more important than ever. The key is to identify the skills that your employees need and then design training programs that address them.
Start by reviewing your job descriptions and employee evaluations and identifying the core competencies that each employee needs to perform their jobs effectively. Once that’s done, proceed to determine what training will help them enhance performance based on their different roles and responsibilities.
KnowledgeCity offers a number of courses designed to help HR and supervisors with this new and challenging environment. To learn more on how to create a highly engaged and productive team, download our free guide on how to implement a successful training program.