The best companies in the world have always needed to rely not only on content for their training and development strategies, such as coaching. When people were confronted, coaching grew with subtle traits such as charisma, context, and casual conversation – all of which made it harder to bring them into the virtual audience.
So how do businesses take a smooth path for their L&D plans where a hybrid transfer is no longer a contingency plan but a way to wait for learning to take place?
In this article, I will share five key approaches to attracting employees, whether they are in the room or not. I understand what makes hybrid learning difficult and emphasize the prejudices we tend to have when working in a hybrid environment.
The world has changed, and so have our ways. No matter how leaders think about hybrid work, we have to accept it. Our workforce has gone through one of the most devastating periods in most of its living memories, and as their priorities have reconciled, their expectations of how they want to work.
As the told the BBC in February: “Part-week work from home has become the norm for some workers. More than 80 percent said their companies have adopted hybrid work – more than since the pandemic, a survey of managers by the Institute for Chartered Management (CMI) has identified.
If we want to keep our talents happy (and stop them from looking for greener pastures), we need to make sure that our overall hybrid strategies are not only fit for purpose, but the learning elements of these strategies are designed to work effectively – for everyone.
Here are five things to keep in mind when conducting hybrid training.
Look both ways. People are drew to the faces and those in front of you will catch your attention first. Make sure you set up your room with screens where virtual participants are placed behind the person’s participants so you don’t forget about them. Make specific reminders in your notes so that each time you ask a question to a room, contact your virtual people. Encourage the virtual group to turn on their cameras and make sure you and other participants see as many of them as possible during the session. It will also help the instructor as they benefit from receiving non-verbal gestures from the participants, such as smiles, eyebrows, nods, a look of confusion and yes, a look of boredom. They can then evaluate their learning in real time and adapt accordingly to improve learning.
Use breaks in both formats. When you divide your participants into groups for discussion, send your virtual participants to the hack rooms as well. One of the main advantages of changing the size of a group is that people who speak less in the plenum often feel happier to contribute in smaller groups. This may be more accurate for those connected remotely. You also tend to get more ideas or discussions on the table at the table, because in smaller groups people have more time to talk.
Control the attention of your audience. Be clear from the start where you want both sides to focus. Use yourself as a visual “anchor” tool and be very clear when you want both groups to move on to a slide or exercise. Ask online contestants to close all other viewing windows, set aside their mobile phones, and remove any potential competition for their interest (easier said than done, I know). Research shows that just having a phone on your desk has a brain drain effect about our attention span and ability to think.
The expectation of online participants, after two years of work, is actually so frequent, yet that they can be “in and out” of the session. Manage these expectations from the beginning, interact with them as you enter, and give them so many opportunities to communicate that they can’t “get in.” In the end, we certainly want to make sure the session is so engaging that they don’t want it.
Make sure the technology doesn’t bother you. This may seem obvious, but one of the biggest obstacles to making these sessions work well is making sure the technology is installed as it should be. Therefore, many facilitators do not do technological dry work when possible, but are extremely useful when conducting them. Have your IT staff at your disposal to help in case of problems during the day and always make sure to do a technical rehearsal of your session to make sure everything is working as it should – don’t leave it to chance!
Make sure everyone is happy to talk. The key to the success of each training session is to create a safe mental environment. Research shows that psychological safety is related to learning behavior. Everyone should feel happy to contribute, so use everyone’s name every time you talk to them, thank them sincerely for their contribution, and make sure everything your current physical participants receive , your virtual participants will also receive.
And finally, enjoy yourself as much as possible. If you feel like you want to be there, chances are they will too.