Over the past two years, companies rapidly adopted digital approaches to deliver learner experiences to help their workforces succeed.

While innovative platforms have made digital training easier to implement, it’s taken a reimagination of online training to create learning experiences that forge and strengthen connection in today’s hybrid workplace.

Developing digital training, whether it’s a sales bootcamp or employee readiness, now provides organizations an opportunity to build community, foster human connection and nurture culture.

It’s a tall order, but digital training can achieve — and even exceed — the desired behavior change driving the learning initiative, along with an additional payoff, cultivating community.

The right digital learning design can help organizations make huge strides in building team connection and a sense of belonging for participants.

Designing for Digital With the Human in Mind

To bridge the disconnects created by remote and hybrid workplaces, leading companies place a premium on building culture. Training initiatives have become an important vehicle for unifying a global map of individuals.

Workplace community isn’t a trivial consideration. In fact, personal connections are more valued than ever. Mary Shea of Forrester Research notes that, “Despite the move to virtual interactions, people crave deep, human connections.” A survey by Gensler Research Institute revealed that 43% of workers consider team building and collaboration as critical workplace aspects.

By weaving human-connection elements throughout an online training experience, individual contributors, managers and leaders can truly engage with each other, embrace the learning, and create a spirit of camaraderie.

According to Bersin’s HR Predictions for 2022, the most powerful and sustainable skills in business are working in teams, leading, collaborating, communicating, storytelling and thinking strategically. Whether you call these soft skills, human skills, or power skills, they are essential elements of a high performing organization.

Companies that develop these human-centered leadership skills create more cohesive cultures that outperform their competitors.

Designers can weave these four culture-building techniques into digital training designs:

  1. Team practice: Designing opportunities for learners to practice in cohorts, including team assignments, can provide safe environments to hone and polish their new skills. Not only does this help participants to immediately apply what they’ve learned, but they develop a sense of belonging.
  2. Peer coaching: Coaching and being coached provides both validation and essential practice. This is especially impactful when people are paired up by region and role so that they share a common business context. The exchanges of feedback, input and recommendations become more relevant.
  3. Discussion boards: Being given the opportunity to discuss, challenge and ask questions in any training setting is essential to developing new behaviors or a new mindset (or both). Digital discussion boards let participants come together to collaborate, share strategies, and provide valuable feedback.
  4. Leader involvement: It’s easy to underestimate the impact that a senior leader can have on a training experience. In a digital setting, leaders are easily able to engage with geographically dispersed employees. In fact, senior leaders, department heads and managers can learn a lot about their culture by participating in discussion boards and reviewing feedback — and those insights might be surprising.

With remote work limiting the amount of face-time workers can get with their teams, their managers and others across the organization, digital training environments deliver vital opportunities for visibility, coaching and community building.

Training as a Culture Tool

Companies that view training as a strategic tool to build culture gain important advantages. The outcomes of a cohesive corporate culture range from greater employee retention to improved stakeholder engagement. When a training initiative helps an organization develop an overall sense of community, individuals and teams can be better equipped to handle today’s unpredictable and constantly changing business conditions.