The COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our daily lives in ways that we could not have imagined a year ago. The immediate pivot to remote work caused by stay-at-home orders, and ensuing social distancing requirements, led businesses to adopt available tools and focus on business continuity — getting the job done.
However, many companies have — and are expected to continue — to embrace distributed teams. A recent study by Microsoft¹ found that 82% of managers expect that their companies will continue to offer telecommuting even when pandemic restrictions are lifted.
As this trend extends into the long-term, companies are looking to optimize remote functionality — not just focus on getting the job done, but getting it done better, virtually.
Learning and development (L&D) teams are responding to this need by changing their delivery paradigms to embrace virtual delivery models. This means not just making trainings available to a remote workforce, but optimizing remote delivery to make the virtual environment an important factor — and asset — to learning.
The sure way to miss success is to miss the opportunity.
- Victor Chasles
This is the opportunity of a professional lifetime for HR leaders to demonstrate their value to the business. Right now, teams need development support, skill building and a sense of belonging and togetherness more than ever. HR leaders can meet these needs in creative, innovative ways that leverage the virtual environment, and new technologies, to make the most of the changes that are happening.
Organizations have the opportunity to implement a comprehensive Virtual Training strategy to meet the needs of learners, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Benefits of Virtual Training Delivery
The initial response to widespread work from home was to take the same L&D initiatives that were already in place, but to tweak the delivery — making programs accessible to a distributed workforce, using Zoom and PowerPoint to pass information along. However, as the novelty wears off, the virtual workforce is starting to push back and vote with their feet — low attendance, low engagement and low participation on these sessions.
Instead, creating a virtual experience — one that is participative, for active learners — will drive engagement while still meeting the needs of the business. Forward-thinking virtual experience design will separate the winning L&D teams from the crowd.
Having delivered virtual experiences (simulations) for over a decade, the core business benefits to this delivery method include:
1. Flexibility. Engage with learners when and where they need it. Flexible delivery is the winning advantage, allowing L&D to accommodate rapid changes in learning demands from the business. This is one area where virtual delivery becomes a truly beneficial factor in learning: adaptability is far easier in the digital environment. Think about it, we no longer have to book travel and hotels weeks or months in advance that fix us to a delivery date. Virtual experiences can be switched on and off within hours.
2. Scalability. Respond to the learning needs of a highly distributed and remote workforce at a minimal cost. In a rapidly changing business environment, teams can grow and change at a moment’s notice; and L&D must balance meeting the need for training with budgeting and cost controls. L&D professionals must ask, “How far can i stretch this investment?” alongside other considerations: Can I translate it into 20+ different languages tomorrow? Can I identify 5+ use cases off the bat? Can my L&D team deliver this?
3. Adaptability. Can be delivered through multiple virtual technology solutions, unlimited size and composition of team and across multiple time scales. Not only do your teams change rapidly, so do the needs of the business. L&D needs an adaptable solution that will meet the needs of a growing workforce, but also the changing needs of the business, in order to add value and support organizational goals.
4. Customization. Easily configurable to your organizational messages, business context and leadership narrative. “I want something off the shelf that I can quickly make my own!” This might seem challenging, but the right product — and the right partner — can help you achieve this. Customization is critical for maximum engagement — your business transformation narrative needs to woven into the experience.
5. Speed. Roll out solutions to a global learning network within days. A virtual simulation that is designed from the start for ease of use and customization allows L&D to respond with agility to changes in business requirement. High fidelity experiences that need a professor to explain will slow you down and costs will grow. Choose a product and a partner that understands this need, and will work with you now and in the future to meet it.
6. Cross-generational workforce support. Design solutions that accommodate the learning paths of Boomers, Gen-X’ers and Millennials. Again, the utilization of good experience design accommodates a much wider audience. Review experiential learning and L&D delivery to ensure that no groups are excluded, and that all types of learners are engaged.
Immersive Learning Strategies: 3 Quick Tips
We’ve been doing this for a long time. Here are 3 tips that will help you stay on track as you build out virtual simulations for your virtual teams.
Tip 1: Virtual Training isn’t just about digitizing existing training materials and then hosting them on an eLearning platform. A good first step would, therefore, include a learning assets auditto determine which of those assets L&D professionals may leverage for the current climate. Some vendors may fall away as they dont have the capabilities that you need to move forward.
Tip 2: Consider not only virtual training tools and technologies but also how they integrate with other systems such as Course Management Systems (CMS), LMS and LXP. The learning journey needs to be thought out for teams and awareness and motivation at the start will be critical to address.
Watch the video: See how easy it is to set up a team simulation with the see6 platform as a plug-and-play solution.
Tip 3: Finally, because virtual training is likely a brand-new training paradigm for you, it’s important that you invest in training all stakeholders — L&D professionals, instructors, SMEs, tech support, and course administrators — before rolling out your Virtual Training initiatives. Certification can be effective here and presents a great development opportunity for your immediate L&D team.
Many L&D professionals we speak to ask us about engagement strategies. Given the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic, with uncertainty and ambiguity around how and when it may end, it is a challenge to get the mind share of learners and their full engagement and participation in learning activities.
How do we get the attention of remote workers?
1. Use immersive technologies. Thanks to innovative technologies emerging in this space, you have a wide spectrum of engaging and immersive approaches to pick from. You can invest in approaches like simulation, Gamification, Scenarios Based Learning and Interactive Video Based Learning. We have seen all of these approaches guarantee an engaged learning experience for remote teams through active participation.
2. Design cross-function gamification. Sending short animated videos as to why this important won’t have the required pull. Rather, think about setting challenges and creating competition between teams around the experience such as a team leader board from across the organization sharing team performance results. Remember, grab their attention first — and there is nothing like a bit of friendly competition to grab it!
3. Curate the experience. If your learners are on ‘receive mode’ for 30+ minutes you will lose them — their attention and their retention. Sessions and challenges need to be <15 mins with breakout sessions, activities and facilitated discussions interspersed throughout. This curation needs to be thought about minute-by-minute.
4. Encourage social competition. Rewarding remote learners with a certification is a motivator to complete a program. This incentive is a great motivator for remote learners to complete the current one and, more specifically, look out for more virtual trainings in the future.
Related Reading: Improve Engagement with Virtual Business Simulations
L&D is changing, driven largely by the transition from in-office to remote work. Adapting to this will involve additional work from HR leaders — but it also presents an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate the value of L&D to the success of the organization.
To accomplish this, it is important to move from the mindset of adapting training for availability to a remote workforce; and instead, adapt it to maximize the effectiveness of the virtual environment: with curated, engaging, customizable virtual simulations.
If you are interested in augmenting L&D delivery at your organization, contact see6 today. Our simulations are fully customizable to help your organization improve team performance and communication, to reach your business goals and gain a competitive advantage.