Picture the scene: Your company has made the shift to hybrid working and suddenly there are issues popping up with communication, collaboration and even technology. Clearly, the organisation is needing some workplace training to better adapt to their new hybrid workplace.
Rather than reacting to any issues that can arise after a hybrid working model has already been introduced, it would be far more beneficial for organisations to preempt adjustment pains and organise a hybrid workplace training strategy. This way all members will feel properly supported and equipped in their new hybrid roles.
Transitioning to hybrid working will require a reevaluation of your current L&D strategy to adapt it better to hybrid and remote work. The goal is to fully support your employees with the skills and tools they need to work effectively and happily within a hybrid workplace.
This list should equip you with key strategies and considerations needed when training a hybrid workforce.
1. Offer A Mix Of In-Person & Remote
Your first impulse to adopt workplace training might be by choosing the easiest option of putting a video camera in front of training facilitators and live streaming it. However, simply adding a video camera to the regular in-person training workshop as a solution for remote training, is not really a solution.
Although it may seem counterproductive, being more expensive and time-consuming, it is likely to be more cost-effective to offer two separate training options; remote and in-person.
Yes, it will take double the time to deliver the training and there will be extra costs associated with set-up for the in-person and then the virtual workshop. However, the return on investment will more than make up for the initial expenses.
The most important output is how much value the employees got out of it and how they apply it to their work. If you’re trying to conduct a two-in-one setup, then chances are, the facilitator will be having to hover between in-person attendees whilst also trying to keep an eye on a computer screen, watching for remote viewers’ queries. We’ve all attended hybrid meetings where remote attendees get ignored. What value will people be getting out of sessions where they don’t receive attention?
It would be far more efficient instead to conduct two separate workshops where the trainers are able to give full attention to each subset. Attendees will finish the training feeling like they have learnt valuable skills with the confidence to apply them in their work.
2. Soft Skills
With the dramatic increase in communication platforms and asynchronous messaging tools being used in the workplace, communication issues can quickly become a problem for a hybrid workforce.
A 2022 study from Loom found that 91% of office workers have had digital messages misunderstood and/or misinterpreted in the workplace.
On top of this, when hybrid work schedules mean that not all employees are physically interacting on a regular basis, chasms can form between departments and even in teams themselves. The worst outcome of these divides will be a loss in culture with disengaged employees, resulting in higher attrition rates.
To solve this issue, a large proponent of a hybrid workplace training strategy should focus on the development of soft skills.
For example, perhaps your organisation could partake in writing sessions that teach them how to communicate effectively via messaging platforms in order to avoid misunderstandings that can often occur. Training content could also include how to collaborate effectively with remote teams, and get the most out of virtual and hybrid meetings.
3. Management Training
Communication skills training shouldn’t be reserved just for employees, management and leadership teams would arguably profit the most from such training.
Relearning how to be competent remote managers is a skill in itself as the challenges faced by hybrid leaders are different from traditional office-based roles. It can be tough for managers to foster a team dynamic when individuals are working all over the globe, making it difficult to build relationships and trust.
Keeping in touch with a remote department is a lot harder when you can’t casually walk past everyone’s desk and ask for quick updates. Instead, everything has to be organised with regular reviews and trying to coordinate when a team should be in the office can be a nightmare with hybrid schedules.
Luckily there are hybrid scheduling tools available to make this task easier, but managers should be trained in the differences between organising a remote department versus an office department.
4. Mindset Training
A large part of switching permanently to hybrid work is a mindset change.
Instead of having a fixed location to do work, suddenly the concept is a lot less concrete and sometimes, lines become blurred resulting in work-life imbalances.
Training should be provided to help individuals adjust to the shift of working from anywhere or working from a mix of home and office locations. There should also be support in learning how to separate work from home life mentally, to help combat any well-being issues.
Burnout is a real issue resulting in more sick days and paid leave, and companies are looking for ways to improve employees’ health and well-being with regular mindfulness sessions, exercise classes or team retreats.
5. Leveraging Training As an Opportunity To Bond
Hybrid workplaces can often end up with certain groups of people frequenting the office more than others due to a variety of reasons, like distance, family responsibilities or simply a preference for working alone.
This becomes an issue when divides appear within the company and an ‘us against them’ dynamic starts to form between office-based employees and remote employees.
There are lots of strategies and techniques at play to encourage employees back into the office, via effective space management or innovative hybrid office design. Another possible way to reduce siloes in the workplace can be with training sessions focusing solely on building relationships in the workplace.
As younger generations grow up online using social media as their primary form of communication, their interpersonal skills are sorely lacking as a result. Therefore, these younger (and older) individuals could really benefit from training workshops as they are forced to interact with one another and build natural relationships.
6. Use Technology To Advantage
Training doesn’t have to be limited to either remote or in-person workshops, take advantage of the technology available and consider an omnichannel approach.
This should include at its core, a cloud-based learning portal that individuals can access to take control of their training and upskilling. Why not also consider virtual reality as well, if the budget allows? Accenture recently invested in over 60,000 virtual reality headsets for its internal training, as a way for employees to access high-quality training whenever they desire.
7. Self-Directed Training
Hybrid working has proven how much individuals appreciate autonomy, so harness that desire and let your employees tailor their training to suit them. Treat training like higher education, individuals can choose modules that appeal to them and then let them learn it how and where they want to.
The hybrid training content can also include professional development in there to allow individuals to further their career prospects and gain control over their futures.
Self-led education leads to higher rates of engagement and completion resulting in more equipped and better-trained staff, benefiting the individuals and the organisation as a whole.
8. Measuring Results
You could have the most comprehensive hybrid work training program in the world, but if you aren’t measuring results then it’s practically useless.
Be sure to consider which metrics you want to measure to keep an eye on how employees are adapting to the hybrid workplace and if best practices are being followed.
Different roles will require different training which will of course mean different metrics to measure, a possible example could be management training and then using anonymous surveys to gather feedback on how managers are communicating with their teams.
Another easy metric to use could be adoption rates, if a new tool has been introduced with the matching training, how quickly are employees implementing the tool in their daily work after completing training sessions?
Adapting the workplace to hybrid is a complete 360-degree operation, with changes needed at every level of the company. From redesigning the office to space management changes to how to train employees to best work in hybrid environments.
Taking the time to adapt your company to hybrid work will pay dividends as long as you approach it thoroughly and with care.