Returning to the Office After COVID: 5 Ways Digital Learning Will Be Impacted
The pandemic led to a monumental shift in how employees collaborate, groups meet, and managers train their employees. Although there were some bumps in the road, many organizations made the most of digital-first work.
After more than a year of remote work, many organizations are moving back to the office. In fact, 61% of employers want to have at least half of their workforce onsite by Q3 of 2021.
But returning to the office after COVID-19 means managers have to rethink their approach to everything—including their digital learning initiatives.
Although 90% of businesses use e-learning to train their employees, the pandemic created a dramatic shift in how organizations approach digital learning. As you return to the office, you need to change your approach—yet again—to keep your team comfortable while achieving your goals.
5 factors that affect post-COVID digital learning
If you’re wondering how to adjust your digital learning initiatives when you return to the office, read on. Here are five factors that will influence the ROI that businesses see on their investment in digital learning.
1. Leadership buy-in
Historically, it’s been difficult for learning and development (L&D) professionals to get executive buy-in or budget approval for digital learning. However, 83% of L&D professionals said buy-in wasn’t an issue when they rolled out digital learning during the pandemic.
After working remotely for over a year, leaders who previously felt unsure about digital learning now understand its value. If budget allocation has been an issue in your organization, it may be easier for leaders to approve funding for digital learning once you return to the office.
2. Official company policies
If your standard operating procedures (SOPs) and employee manuals haven’t been updated to acknowledge COVID-19, this is a must for returning to the office. It’s crucial not only for day-to-day office life but also for your digital learning initiatives.
Your official company policies should spell out how, exactly, digital learning will work for your organization. Update your training policies to address:
- Safety measures for training. This might mean only allowing digital training and not offering any in-person training.
- Certification requirements. If you need all of your team members to be certified via digital learning, make that clear in your policies.
- New tools or processes for digital learning. If you recently added a digital learning tool like Dokeos, provide the URL to this tool as well as detailed SOPs with screenshots to minimize confusion.
3. The digital divide
Digital learning is a boon to your team, but you need to support your employees’ efforts with the right tools. Don’t assume that everyone on your team has a smartphone to support e-learning. Did you know that 11% of US adults own a cellphone that isn’t a smartphone? This means some of your employees likely can’t access videos on their personal devices.
While you can still allow employees to use their personal devices for digital learning, you should also offer company resources for those who don’t own smartphones. Equip your team with company-provided smartphones or tablets to bridge the digital divide.
4. Employee schedules and training time
On-the-job training is a must for employees to improve their skills. While 68% of employees want to do digital learning while they’re at work, they only have 24 minutes a week to spend on training. In other words, lack of time is the biggest barrier to successful e-learning.
As a leader, you need to protect your team’s time when they return to the office. This might mean:
- Offering flexible work schedules
- Creating hybrid work agreements
- Scheduling exclusive time just for training each week
- Automating or outsourcing low-value tasks so your employees have more time for training
While these efforts will free up your team’s time, it’s important to remember that digital learning takes up to 60% less time than traditional in-person learning. You’re already saving time by investing in digital learning, which is very helpful for your team’s packed schedule.
5. Soft skills and leadership training
COVID-19 exacerbated many issues that were already present in the workplace. For example, 77% of organizations reported a leadership gap during COVID-19. While it’s tempting to design digital learning that only coaches employees on hard skills like software proficiency, soft skills are essential to developing your leadership pipeline. In fact, 97% of employers say soft skills are more important than soft skills.
If your organization hasn’t already started training employees on soft skills like conflict resolution and customer service, digital learning is both effective and affordable. When IBM switched to e-learning, its team learned 5x more content at just one-third of the price, saving $200 million while boosting its employees’ skills in the process.
Return to the office with better training initiatives
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented boom in educational technology. But returning to the office after the pandemic requires a new approach. Make sure to plan for these five factors so you design an effective digital learning initiative that gets results from an onsite team.
It’s time to overhaul your digital learning efforts. Organizations need to evolve beyond the clunky (and often last-minute) solutions they used in response to the pandemic. Thoughtful, strategic tools like the Dokeos LMS support long-term training initiatives—whether your team is still remote or returning onsite.
See the Dokeos difference for yourself. Try our digital-first approach to learning for free.