Re-imagining Workplace Learning During COVID 19

In a modern workplace eco-system learning is a vital, indispensable constant. Learning-while-working holds an important key to organizational growth. It in many ways also decides the future growth trajectory of a performing unit. Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in all those previously held perceptions about the workplace and learning-while-working at a scale beyond anybody’s comprehension.

Critical challenges

The pandemic has thrown up critical challenges before organisations – How to shield the workplace against infection?  How to protect workers from catching and spreading the life-threatening disease? These are the pertinent questions to be asked amid the pandemic. The absence of an effective vaccine has further compounded the situation leading to closure of units, large scale retrenchments and financial losses. From the initial rampaging of the coronavirus in India around March 2020 and its subsequent full-scale outbreak across the globe, the workplaces have witnessed disruptions in in-person leadership programs, technical training and overall learning processes. Amid this widespread disruption, workplace learning has been the greatest casualty.

Workplace learning –some facts

The workplace learning takes place through in-house training, coaching and mentoring of self-learning employees within an organization. The significance of workplace learning has been further underlined by the 70:20:10 model of learning proposed by Michael M Lombardo and Robert W Eichinger. According to them 70 per cent of our learning comes from working and gaining experience at the workplace. And, 20 per cent of our learning comes from observation and remaining 10 per cent from classes or formal learning methods. The Covid-19 has hit at the very architecture of this model compelling organisations to find newer ways of continuing with this learning process.

Innovative ways

Undeterred by disruptions, many organisations have since found innovative ways of keeping engaged with their workforces away from the office spaces at  workplaces remotely placed, using digital and information technology. This has not only ensured continuity in learning of skills through mostly informal means but also productivity of organisations.

New re-imagined workplace

But, for a multitude of workforce employed in myriad sectors of the economy, used to daily boardroom meetings, direct interactions with clients, working at a virtual workplace away from office premises entails a difficult mental adjustment. Sooner they get used to the new normal the better it will be for them and their organisations. The long and short of it all is that an uncertain future awaits the workforce where all rules of working are being redefined on a daily basis. It is far from an intimidating scenario. But it certainly will be a new re-imagined workplace populated by people who underline the need for business and society but are ready to face the uncertain times. There will be both an opportunity and catalyst for change and innovation.

3-ways of sustaining workplace learning

There are three ways in which we can sustain the future workplace learning under the new normal.

  • It is imperative to have new improved learning habits in the organization and build a future-proof learning and development in the new workplace architecture. This can be done by-
  • Reimaging a sustainable future for professional learning, by developing virtual learning experiences using the science of learning
  • Giving way to a more democratized work culture where there are no distinctions between a giver and taker of workplace learning.  

 

 

Promise of a better future

Notwithstanding emerging constraints in the wake of Covid 19, a re-imagined workplace holds promise of a better future. As we shift gears to enter a new world of remote working and distributed work, the new transformed workplace will be more collaborative in nature as against single dimensional. In the new technology driven learning and sharing work eco-system every single individual will be a giver and taker of knowledge. The need of the hour is to brace ourselves to adapt to the new workplace situation minus any institutional or geographic boundaries.