Building a learning culture in a hybrid working world

February 11, 2022
June 26, 2023
Learning And Development

At a time when we’re spending roughly two-thirds of our week working from home and the rest in an office, it’s fair to say we’ve given people flexibility and autonomy around how and where they work.

But can we say the same about learning? Are we building a community that connects people regardless of where they are in the world? Do we provide learning opportunities no matter where people are choosing to work? And have we updated our L&D approach for the hybrid age?

In a lot of cases, companies are still catching up! Thankfully, our CEO and Co-Founder, Nelson Sivalingam, joined Hibob live to discuss how you can build a learning culture in a hybrid working world. Here are a few key takeaways

Why a mindset shift is needed for hybrid L&D

Going back to our case for flexibility and autonomy, we have to apply to same principles and mindset to our hybrid learning culture. For many organisations, especially those who delivered 90% of their training in-person in the past, it can’t feel like a challenging and overwhelming change to manage.

In reality, it’s a blank canvas. A chance to reset how we deliver learning and ditch bad habits that lingered for too long. In the same way that we’re questioning why we ever commuted an hour each way for a single meeting, we need to question why we were doing certain things in L&D and decide what makes sense today.

Our learning administrators need a change of perspective too! They’re normally the person buying learning tech and building strategies, despite the fact they’re not the end user. Naturally, they think more about the problems it solves for them and less about the learner. That’s how so many companies end up buying tech that nobody uses.

And the swift switch to remote working opened a lot of eyes to this, with companies finding their legacy learning management system (LMS) just wasn’t fit for purpose.

Whether it’s finding tech or building content, the hybrid mindset should be learner-centric. Who are we building this for? What problems are they facing? What’s the right resource, format and moment to help them make an impact?

Creating a sense of community and belonging through remote learning

When we’re not seeing our colleagues in person, it can be hard to build the relationships that form the basis of our community. It can also make learning trickier. And from a people perspective, two specific challenges presented themselves in the move to remote and hybrid working:

  1. Companies realised how much knowledge was being unintentionally shared in the workplace. Whether it was through osmosis, shoulder taps or being able to swing by someone’s desk. When we started working from home, people didn’t know where they could go to find all of this.
  2. Fostering meaningful relationships between colleagues became harder because those watercooler moments and organic conversations weren’t happening.

However, both of those problems can be solved through learning and empowering people within your organisation to teach and learn from each other.

Why? Because that social learning process fosters relationships by giving us opportunities to collaborate and communicate. It also breaks knowledge out of silos. One of the biggest challenges companies face is knowledge leaving the organisation when employees head through the exit door.

But by enabling knowledge sharing, more of that tacit knowledge and company-specific wisdom is retained. It helps you plug the holes in your leaky bucket, meaning knowledge doesn’t slip through those cracks.

The trouble is, when it’s difficult or time-consuming to share that knowledge, people are reluctant to do it – meaning you could still lose crucial information. A learning experience platform, like HowNow, reduces the friction that prevents people from learning socially!

We empower people to share knowledge in clicks by creating Nuggets, integrate with tools like Slack and MS Teams to capture knowledge in the flow of work, and a whole lot more.

We’d love to show you how, so why not book a demo today and supercharge your hybrid learning

Natural community behaviour and leveraging its power

In many ways, communities curate and moderate content independently. If a colleague likes, comments on or shares something on LinkedIn, for example, that’s a signal that it’s relevant to me as we’re in the same space or role. The big L&D question is how you leverage this behaviour and those communities to drive impact.

Part of the equation is understanding the community’s existing behaviour. How and where are they sharing knowledge or resources? Where do people save that or their takeaways from it? Getting a handle on how people learn organically helps you swim with current rather than against it.

How can companies build their people capability in a hybrid world?

It all starts with impact! How, as a people function, are you going to help the company reach its goals and which metrics will tell you if you succeed? Which skills are needed to deliver that? And what role does L&D play in closing the gap between where you are now and that skills promised land?

Of course, this applies to all people development, regardless of where people are working. The hybrid angle is working out how we want to access and deliver that. How do you make it available to your workforce, regardless of location or time zone?

We also have to create the right environment for people to learn fast, feel comfortable in testing new ideas and be okay with making mistakes…

Psychological safety’s role in learning and development

Failing is all part of the learning process! But without psychological safety, we’ll always be afraid to try just in case it all goes wrong. Imagine the company culture is one where managers are telling us off for trying something new that doesn’t pan out – why on earth would we want to learn again?

But if our leaders create environments where testing out new ideas is encouraged and those not going to plan is an opportunity to understand why, we’ll gladly learn lessons and move on! If we’re going to create a continuous learning culture, we can’t petrify people with the consequences of failure and discourage them from trying new things in the future. It should be trial and error, not trial and terror…

Hybrid managers and L&D teams are given the added challenge of body language. In person, it’s far easier to give people cues that encourage them or make them feel more comfortable. Something it’s far harder to do when people only see you from the neck up, on a small screen.

In many ways, we need to overcommunicate to provide that sense of psychological safety. Discuss the benefits of trying and failing more frequently, have candid conversations about your experiences – think about what’s a good fit for your company culture.

Is our learning investment optimised and braced for impact?

We need to design learning experiences with proof of impact baked in! If we don’t establish the impact we want to have or the positive outcome we want to reach, we’re unlikely to deliver something that solves an organisational problem.

Typically, there are three proofs you can build into your learning experiences.

  1. Proof of knowledge: Tests and quizzes you use to understand someone’s understanding of a topic. For example, we ask someone to watch a cyclist and tell us the fundamentals of how it works – gauging their understanding of pedalling, balance and so on.
  2. Proof of skill: A situation where you can apply that knowledge, a point L&D often fails to get to. With our cycling analogy, we’d provide a safe environment to ride the bike and demonstrate what you’ve learnt in practice.
  3. Proof of performance: Our budding bike rider can get from point A to point B, demonstrating that they can get to the outcome.

However, in the L&D world, we need the baseline metric to understand impact properly. Let’s say we want to shorten our sales cycle. It’s currently three months (our baseline metric), and we want to cut it down to two. So we’re tracking whether or not we can improve that sales process through learning, but we don’t simply want to assume that there’s a correlation between our initiative and the outcome.

It’s sensible to have some qualitative insights into that too. For example, we could ask stakeholders whether learning has improved their selling and negotiating in sales calls. If they say yes, it gives us a better understanding of the return on investment and our success.

Finding the right learning platform could help you do all of this! From driving knowledge sharing to measuring the impact of learning, check out HowNow, right now.