Editor’s Note: As we completed a challenging and unique year and entered a new one, the Training Industry editorial board asked training leaders to write their reflections on 2020 and projections for 2021. This is a series of “What has changed and what has not?” : Summing up the results of 2020 and planning for 2021, ”is the result. Also, don’t miss our infographics, “5 tips on how to turn the riots of 2020 in the direction of 2021: understanding from learning leaders”, who shares thoughts from the series.
2020 was a year of intense change. Like many businesses, the public relations and communications consulting firm Man Bites Dog has faced the challenge of moving to remote work. Although we missed seeing each other face to face, we worked hard to deliver some of the most valuable aspects of the office to home staff.
Focusing on learning and development (L&D) has helped us avoid the monotony of working from home and maintain a happy and motivated workforce. Instead of just stepping on the water until we can get back to the office, we tried to introduce new practices that we can continue once we’re back in the workspace:
Focus on holistic well-being
We’ve seen prosperity gradually rise to the corporate agenda, but last year’s events stressed the importance providing holistic assistance to our people. Instead of just fulfilling the basic requirements of employees for remote work, it was important for companies to think about what we can do to make employees feel connected and satisfied in this troubled time.
Much of this process is for employees to prioritize their mental and physical well-being and the inclusion of self-service they have a tight schedule. At Man Bites Dog we have introduced regular morning workouts, including an hour of exercise on the agenda every two weeks to encourage a healthy and positive start to the day. We also organized a Pilates table session to help fight the pain that can occur at home.
We also held our first virtual day of health and happiness, encouraging employees to retire from work and focus on their well-being. We started by delivering mysterious parcels to the door of each of our staff the night before with a schedule of daytime activities as well as food and food choices. This package improved the experience and assured that it is not just virtual, because we knew that we would all eat the same thing at the same time, even if we could not have lunch together.
The virtual day of health and happiness began with two hours spent on exercise. This time was followed by various group sessions, including a meditation class; a workshop for brainstorming on how to stay connected during remote work; and a session from our CEO Claire Mason to discuss our accomplishments as a company over the past year. The day went well, and what we plan to repeat – hopefully personally – next year.
Social activities and team building activities are central to our culture at Man Bites Dog. Although we had to adjust our approach, we worked hard to support these developments. Companies face the challenge of keeping teams in touch while struggling »Increase fatigue». We found that small things, such as scheduling virtual meetings and encouraging team members to share their blocking projects (with lots of baking, some successful and some not-quite-successful), were valuable for boosting morale.
Because the world is still a social distance, keeping in touch is more important than ever. It may be hard to repeat the “water cooler conversations” that are so important to office life, but we found it best to have a topic to discuss. To this end, we have set up a cultural dinner club where colleagues gather together to discuss books, movies, recipes and other subjects and activities that they enjoy. This approach allows us to focus on the conversation and gives us the opportunity to watch and do more in our free time.
Training, retraining and liaison are now more important than ever, especially for new employees who are not in the office to learn from their colleagues. But they are also more complex than ever. Businesses have had to change their curricula by introducing innovative approaches to equip the distributed workforce with the necessary skills.
In the absence of osmotic learning, active knowledge sharing is key. At Man Bites Dog, we began planning weekly bite-sized training sessions, encouraging team members to share their experiences in different areas of business operations. We also encourage staff to regularly attend webinars and virtual conferences and report on key lessons. Although attending online events has required getting used to, these opportunities are valuable for gaining new insights and building relationships.
Now, more than ever, we need to invest in the talent we have. With remote work, competition for skilled talent is increasing – and budgets are limited for many companies. A 2020 poll The Chartered Institute of Personal and Development (CIPD) found that nearly two out of five organizations expect to cut their budgets for talent management this year.
As the digital revolution continues to gain momentum, the skills we need are changing. The world of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation is not so far away, and it will be important to conduct regular training to address emerging gaps in technical skills. However, development programs should not diminish their focus on soft skills; the ability to communicate and work in a team will be the same, if not moreimportant for collaboration and relationship building in the digital world.
Educating a culture of care in 2021
It is important for businesses to breathe a sigh of relief and sum up the results to grow better this year and beyond.
With the workplace up to date, business leaders should invest in prosperity and development their workforce. Much has changed in the past year, but one thing has not: our people are our most valuable resource, and employers who show that they care will thrive in our ever-changing world.