How Hybrid Work Will Impact Talent & Learning

i4cp Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone led a discussion on hybrid work, and specifically how it is or will be influencing learning and talent practices. Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  • A poll of participants asked which of several activities are the most likely to be done in-person after organizations return to the office (whenever that might be happening). The top answer was team-building activities with close to 70%, with around 50% indicating onboarding. Then candidate interviews, talent reviews, large town-hall meetings, and training were indicated as less likely to go back to being predominantly in-person. 
  • Virtual/Hybrid onboarding. Several on the call noted how successful the transition to virtual onboarding has been over the past 18 months. In many cases, recent new hires have given very positive feedback to the new remote onboarding process. Some organizations will continue to do mostly digital / remote onboarding with shorter in-person aspects for those who will be hybrid or work near an office location just to cover tours of the facilities and relationship building with local colleagues.
  • Virtual New Hire Breakfasts. One participant noted that they hold monthly new hire breakfasts virtually to allow them to reconnect with each other and some they may not have met that were hired during the same time period.
  • Using physical space. One participant noted that they are thinking through how best to use their physical space for large-scale, complex innovation sessions. She noted that having a cross-functional teams together can spark innovative ideas and foster alignment.
  • Hybrid meetings.
    • Several noted that for meetings and training sessions, as much as possible, if even one or two people are remote, then everyone logs into the Zoom or other platform, rather than the people in the office gathering in a conference room. Doing so makes the meeting / training experience the same for everyone (eliminates any FOMO, "fear of missing out"), and allows for online features such as the chat to be used.
    • See also this i4cp article for when hybrid meetings are conducted: Considerations and Best Practices for Running Hybrid Meetings.
  • Talent Reviews. One participant said "Our talent reviews this year have been 100% virtual and we've captured all data directly in our HRIS. No paper, no travel. Very efficient and our leaders loved it." Another participant said that they will be doing talent reviews in-person again in the future, but they too will no longer be bringing any paper.
  • Virtual classroom training.
    • One participant said that since the beginning of the pandemic… "We did cancel a lot, did a lot virtual, but we always took a look at 1. Need, 2. Timing, 3. How to make it better for virtual classroom."
    • One participant noted that learnings from the virtual classroom will impact and improve in-person training: "I believe the interactivity we have HAD to build into virtual, when brought back to in-person, will better enable and facilitate active learning vs. lecture."
    • Several participants noted that they have implemented the best practice of using producers to support virtual trainers during sessions or facilitators during meetings. One stressed how essential this decision has been to their success.
    • Stone noted the important difference between "Hybrid" and "Blended". Hybrid learning is attempting to have a live event with some people gathered together in-person and others attending virtually. Blended learning is a concept that has been around for over two decades, and typically involves a mix of learning modalities spread over-time, e.g., some videos or reading before and between virtual classroom live sessions, the use of discussion forums to augment the live discussions, etc.
  • Informal learning. One participant described that over the past 18 months they have started a series of events called "Manager Community Webinars." To increase connectivity amongst the manager community, they have been sourcing best practices around virtual onboarding to showcase what has worked really well, how challenges were overcome, etc. This approach involved very little upfront design or content, by instead leveraging the manager community. This was wildly successful, so the next one will be on resiliency and burnout.

Be sure to see the schedule of upcoming meetings in i4cp's Next Practices Monthly series.