A large portion of the workforce quickly went remote as a result of the coronavirus pandemic — which created a number of challenges for training professionals. Seemingly overnight, organizations had to rethink how to deliver training, and determine which content would engage employees who were now occupied by the distractions of home life. Overworked and stressed, many employees didn’t have time for full-day instruction, so training departments had to find a way to deliver training in short bursts. And forget about long authoring times. Employees needed access to updated training immediately — which meant companies had to fast-track how they created and deployed training materials.

Though the pandemic forced organizations to change rapidly, that might not have been a bad thing. Corporate training was already in need of a transformation. The pandemic just exposed some of the problematic areas and sped up the process.

Here are four ways COVID-19 has transformed training and development:

  1. Training Delivery

Organizations with in-office training strategies were caught off-guard when employees started working from home. Suddenly, printed training manuals, on-premises learning management systems (LMSs), and in-person, instructor-led training (ILT) programs weren’t going to work.

The obvious answer was to go digital — and Training Industry research confirmed that’s what many organizations did. Between March and September 2020, there was a 20% increase in the use of virtual instructor-led training (VILT), as well as a similar decrease in ILT.

The pandemic was the nudge many organizations needed to explore digital training options. And now that they’ve dipped their toes in the water, organizations will likely continue to explore other digital ways to deliver training to their remote and on-site employees.

  1. Employee Engagement

Motivating employees to participate and engage with training has always been a pain point for training professionals. This has been amplified by the pandemic. Companies quickly learned that PDFs and slideshows didn’t stand a chance against distractions like pets, children or Netflix.

So, what actually works?

Answer: Training material that’s fun and interactive. The best example is game-based learning: simple, interactive modules like quiz games, spot-the-error, and role play scenario games drive learner engagement, repeat plays and drive better learning outcomes.

Many organizations have  implemented game-based learning to tap into peoples’ natural competitive drives, so that employees are motivated to learn as they play — and keep coming back.

Now that organizations know how to reach remote employees with engaging content, they can continue to create compelling training material, even if employees go back into the office. The days of dry, boring content are over.

  1. Training Time

Working from home is stressful — especially during a pandemic. People are juggling personal and professional responsibilities and many feel overwhelmed and overworked. The last thing anyone wants is to put important tasks on hold as they spend hours training.

To support employees, organizations need to position training as a resource, and not as an obligation. Instead of hosting full-day training sessions (filled with information that may not be relevant to everyone) chunk information into hyper-specific lessons. That way, employees can seek out the exact information they need, when they need it. Each microlearning lesson should only take a few minutes to complete, so it fits around your learners’ workflows and allows them to get back to their important tasks.

  1. Speed of Authoring Training Content

Creating training content has traditionally been a bottleneck for many organizations. It’s not unusual for companies to spend weeks or even months developing training content, especially if they need to get their information technology (IT) folks involved.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for faster content authoring. Government regulations and internal policies are constantly changing and employees need updated training right away. One way to build training content quickly is to use an authoring tool. However, keep in mind that not all tools are created equal. Some give you the ability to create highly customizable content but might require coding knowledge. Other tools are integrated within an LMS or learning experience platform (LXP) and simply require the ability to drag and drop.

If you don’t have the budget for new technology, there are other ways to quickly generate training materials. For example, you could try taping an ILT session. Then, put it online for employees to watch, pause, take notes and rewatch if necessary. You can also incorporate the microlearning approach here. Try breaking up videos into small clips so learners can find the exact subtopics that are most relevant to them and view them quickly

COVID-19 has practically forced businesses to change overnight. Though the world is still adjusting, it is clear that the corporate training landscape has been altered forever. Training is being developed and delivered more efficiently, the content fits into remote workflows and employees actually seem to enjoy it. So, if there was a silver lining to the global health crisis, it’s possible that this rapid change spawned the makeover that the training industry needed.