After months of uncertainty and upheaval, it’s no surprise that many people are anxious to resume their pre-pandemic routines. As governments around the world navigate how to safely return to some sense of normalcy, employers and employees alike are coming to terms with what that “new normal” means at work.
The workplace is one of the best reflections of how much life has changed. Restaurants removed tables to comply with new occupancy limits, retailers installed plexiglass barriers to limit customer contact and offices increased space between desks — not to mention the millions of people now working from home full time, many for the first time and with no clear idea when or if they’ll be asked to return.
Whether it’s adjusting to long-term remote work, modified work environments or even completely new roles, organizations — and employees — face a steep learning curve before they can reach pre-pandemic productivity levels. Now is a prime opportunity for learning and development (L&D) professionals to demonstrate the value of their programs to prepare workers for the challenges they face.
Adapt Quickly to Changing Learner Needs and Business Objectives
Training is essential in helping workers adjust to their “new normal,” but L&D programs aren’t immune from the challenges of adapting to new ways of working. Traditional in-person or on-the-job training is no longer possible for many organizations. As a result, L&D teams must quickly find safe ways to deliver effective training at scale virtually or in vastly different environments than they’re accustomed to. Shifting more of their programs to digital learning — webinars, asynchronous eLearning courses, how-to videos recorded on site, etc. — offers more flexibility for both trainers and learners.
Additionally, L&D professionals should be aware and stay attuned to other areas where employees or the organization might need support. Learning programs that address key areas like managing remotely and developing resilience will equip workers with critical skills to cope with new or challenging situations. Companies with access to a broad catalog of online courses through their eLearning provider or learning management system (LMS) might consider expanding employees’ access to this content to create engaging digital learning experiences.
Use Training to Help Employees Cope With New Challenges
Figuring out how to work safely and productively during a pandemic isn’t just about a socially distanced office layout; employees are also adapting to new work processes. As a result, even employees who have been in their roles for years will have to relearn how to do their jobs.
When workers can’t occupy the same physical space, skills like communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, and time and priority management become even more essential. These skills are doubly important for managers and supervisors, who are challenged to monitor productivity and assess performance remotely. Helping employees learn how to work together virtually or at a distance is paramount as companies adapt workflows to survive — and, hopefully, thrive — going forward.
Despite the challenges ahead, the “new normal” also presents opportunities for L&D professionals to help their organizations become more resilient, effective and committed to continuous learning.