In a hybrid workplace, employees will need flexibility in being able to learn in the office or remotely at home, and learn through a variety of formats that are easy to use – learning formally together, as well as asynchronously at their own pace. This learning and development (L&D) model is known as hybrid learning, which combines digital and face-to-face learning, in person and remote, live and synchronous.
When designing a hybrid learning program, it’s important to select the most relevant learning activities and resources that prepare the audience for real-life tasks. The value delivered from hybrid learning is achieved when individuals can demonstrate they have the knowledge or skills required to achieve the desired business outcome.
While the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated digital-led approaches to employee engagement, people are more engaged when there is active communication. Live interactions are better than broadcasts for collaboration and providing support. This is another important consideration when determining how content is delivered, so that time spent online is balanced between engagement and self-discovery.
Creating a learning community centered around the hybrid learning program encourages knowledge sharing, enabling individuals to access a support network or seek guidance from a facilitator on the activities if needed.
Addressing these design considerations requires leadership buy-in on the advantages of hybrid learning, and timely access to subject matter experts who can work with you to develop practical learning resources and provide ongoing support.
If you encounter challenges in these areas, here are three tips to build a case for change, demonstrate value and improve the effectiveness of hybrid learning.
Tip 1: Focus on Targeted, Related Networks
One way to incrementally build a case for change is to evaluate the job functions in your organization’s job architecture framework. Assess the job functions that are going through significant change in terms of skill sets required and how hybrid learning solutions can help reskill employees.
Timelines for onboarding programs relating to these job functions can help create urgency and commitment for leadership support. Trial different approaches and seek feedback from stakeholders and subject matter experts who are invested in successfully onboarding new employees.
To gain buy-in for hybrid learning, identify multiple related job functions and roles where you can demonstrate benefits, such as improved collaboration and innovation across these roles to achieve a common goal. Establishing change agents across related parts of an organizational network where they can reinforce one another increases the willingness to learn from one another, explore new ideas and foster innovation.
By demonstrating improvements in cross-team outcomes enabled by hybrid learning, this will help you gain support in the expansion of hybrid learning solutions across your organization.
Tip 2: Build Content Heroes in Teams
The subject matter experts (SMEs) needed to create performance support resources are likely to be time poor and need support with translating their technical and domain knowledge into learning resources.
The combination of these factors may create a dependency on project-based resources to maintain the learning resources. To counteract this, look for team members who are adept in skills such as digital communication, sense-making, continuous improvement and change management, who can continue collaborating with SMEs to improve the program.
Engage these team members up front so that they have an opportunity to develop relationships with the necessary stakeholders and build confidence in contributing their skills toward developing and improving hybrid learning solutions.
These team members are an integral part of your change agent network to sustain a continuous learning culture, as they will be key translators of new information into value-adding resources that benefit the wider team.
Tip 3: Wear the Lens of a Professional Beginner
In a work environment where team members have varying levels of experience and learning preferences, it can be challenging to determine which type of performance support resources will achieve the greatest value. Before generating ideas, it’s important to understand what problems your learners are facing, and how they are likely to ask questions in relation to the topic.
What might your learners need to unlearn and relearn? At which step of their workflow will they realize the need for more learning to improve their performance? What would motivate them to share their knowledge and enhance learning resources on the topic?
Taking a human-centered approach to designing hybrid learning solutions will help not only with prioritizing ideas based on value add, but also with understanding how to tailor the training delivery approach so that different personas can easily find relevant answers to their questions in the flow of work.
The success of a hybrid learning model is as much about building learning engagement as it is about strategic change management. Applying an Agile approach to delivering value ensures not only that learner engagement is at the center of decision-making, but also that training achieves business results, faster.