The future of work is driven by the confluence of massive technology and people related disruptions. These forces are changing three deeply connected dimensions of an organisation: work (what can be automated), the worker (who can do the work) and the workplace (where is the work done). COVID-19 accelerated the transition to the future of work, forcing organisations to adopt technology faster, expand to the gig-worker economy and adopt virtual workplace models.
All these dimensions combined are forcing employees to upskill, especially on the virtual ways of working, almost overnight. A sense of urgency to learn and apply emerging trends, such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that continue to transform ways of working is becoming more commonplace. With the evolving ways of working, organisations are adapting to newer ways to reskill and upskill their workforce to meet the demands of the ‘new normal’. Upskilling and lifelong learning is now a strategic imperative.
The Deloitte and National HRD Network (NHRDN) report titled ‘Future of learning in the wake of COVID-19’1 says that learning needs to be on the business agenda like never before. Nearly 50 percent of the surveyed organisations are prioritising crafting their learning strategy in alignment with the business strategy without losing sight of the employee experience. As an example, if the business identifies analytics to be a core driver for decision making, the learning organisation needs to be nimble and agile enough to upskill on analysis methods, data modelling, visualisation tools and data warehousing.
While it is no surprise that virtual learning has emerged as the preferred method of learning, organisations are now focusing on reducing the space between “learning and work”. With the advent of millennials in the ageing workforce and a lot of key talent across industries on the verge of retirement, the employee demographics are undergoing a major change. Organisations are now realising the value of a customised and personalised learning design approach—carefully planned as per the target audience’s needs. Organisations are looking at making virtual learning at least 40% of their formal learning structure and support it with more interactive content2.
The pandemic has not only changed business models, but also greatly curtailed learning budgets for most organisations. This has made organisations extremely prudent about the avenues they spend the learning budget on. Organisations are making their existing learning platforms more robust and increasing user adoption along with learning time spent. The adoption was driven by using techniques such as converting physical training to virtual, sharing learning material, working with business teams to support learning to name a few. Going forward, organisations are looking at an integrated learning ecosystem with use of technology to provide anytime-anywhere learning.
The L&D teams are also challenged with managing constant upskilling, with focused budgets and a virtual digital workforce. Hence, they need to upskill themselves and focus on developing ‘new age skills’ like learner centred design thinking, content curation, personalisation, knowledge sharing and collaboration. An important shift to note, is that outside of technical skills, they are also responsible for building an empathetic, emotionally intelligent and resilient workforce.
- Learning strategy and business models need increased interlinking
- Virtual is here to stay, providing experiences is key
- Even with learning budget cuts, organisations are prioritising and spending on integrated technologies
- Design thinking and content curation: skills that L&D teams cannot do without
- Organisations are transitioning from buying content to curating personalised and contextualised content
- The new mandate of L&D: build a resilient, emotionally intelligent, and empathetic workforce