In March, organizations across the world scrambled to implement remote work and training measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Many organizations struggled with the abrupt switch; according to a recent survey on organizational preparedness, 46% of respondents felt their organizations were unprepared to train a remote workforce. A common theme among those respondents was a lack of technology and online learning tools in place. Furthermore, a Training Industry pulse survey found that nearly half of organizations have a new training plan in place, but only one-third feel it will be executed.

A March survey by The Learning Guild pointed to the same lack of preparedness. Respondents cited “issues [that] ranged from overwhelmed infrastructure and problems with VPNs [virtual private networks] and apps to frustrations with overloaded virtual classroom products, the lack of an HR policy on remote work, and communication problems across departments and via vertical channels.”

At first, many business leaders hoped this shift would be a temporary measure, lasting two weeks to a month, perhaps. Organizations threw up hasty webinars and short-term learning solutions. However, a follow-up June survey from The Learning Guild in June and May research by Fosway Group came to the same conclusion: There is no going back. Learning and development (L&D) has changed forever.

Fosway Group’s research indicates that:

    • Only 5% of respondents predict that their L&D strategy, investment and resourcing will return to the pre-pandemic “normal.”
    • Ninety-four percent of L&D professionals changed their strategy in response to the pandemic, and two in three made “significant changes to what they do and how they do it.”
    • eLearning may be waning in popularity. In terms of ratings of success, video content is the highest-rated modality used during the pandemic, closely followed by curated content.

If your organization struggled at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s understandable. No one was expecting this crisis, but now is the time to embrace change and implement the tools and policies necessary to succeed in the ongoing and post-pandemic world. Here’s how to adapt your L&D plans to ensure your organization will be successful after COVID-19.

1. Invest in Communication Technology

Everything has gone digital. Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom have become commonplace and essential collaboration and communication tools for remote teams. If you weren’t using some sort of intraoffice instant messaging system before, you probably are now. Some of these tools have powerful shortcuts and collaboration features. Providing short tutorial videos and periodic “quick tips” on how to maximize these tools can help increase productivity among remote teams and employees who are back in the office.

2. Explore Innovative Learning Solutions

Four out of five respondents to the Fosway Group survey reported that stakeholder demand for digital learning has increased. Is your L&D team ready to develop and deploy it?

Find a learning management system (LMS) that can handle videos, and consider a tool that makes it easy to create immersive learning content and virtual reality (VR) courses. If you don’t have the resources in house to develop VR training, consider outsourcing it. The investment in virtual reality will pay off with increased engagement and retention (as well as the benefits of future-proofing your training against future upheavals).

3. Reskill for Remote Work

You’ll likely need to increase interpersonal, managerial and supervisory training in response to the pandemic. Your managers may not be accustomed to managing employees they don’t see in the office every day, and team members can struggle to collaborate with remote peers.

Communication skills are essential for remote teams. Many training companies are offering special discounts and courseware bundles to help organizations bring their team up to speed. Off-the-shelf training courses are the quickest route to reskilling your team for remote success.

4. Reboard Teams Coming Back to the Office

Some organizations are bringing workers back to the office in staggered shifts or new, socially distanced office layouts. The term “reboarding” has emerged, referring to a retraining period as organizations begin the return to the workplace. Reboarding is an opportunity to set the tone for the new flow of work. It includes training employees on new best practices and introducing new policies.

Reboarding is also an opportunity to check in on employee mental health and engagement. Many employees may be feeling stressed out, questioning where they fit into this “new normal” of work or questioning how to contribute from afar. Learning leaders should focus on providing the best training and development resources to workers during this time. Showing the organization’s continued investment in the team can help alleviate workers’ worries.

Without question, this pandemic is changing learning and development across the globe. The most successful organizations will be the ones that embrace the change and take advantage of the capabilities of digital training solutions.