If one thing is clear from the COVID-pandemic, it’s that there is no return to normal. Extended office shutdowns have sparked an immense shift in how, when and where we work, which calls for an innovative step change in how we deliver training.

In this new world, individuals and organisations need to be able to upskill and lift capabilities in a way that reflects people’s choice of workplace. We also need to be mindful of the fact that at least for the foreseeable future, COVID still has the potential to cause significant disruption across sectors.

But just has the pandemic has thrown up new challenges it has also presented us with opportunities. Work-from-home mandates and social-distancing rules have shone a spotlight on the viability and convenience of remote training and the power of technology to connect and engage learners. Being forced to work from home has also seen many workers improve their digital literacy skills, putting more tools at our disposal when it comes to training delivery mechanisms.

Harnessing this potential, we believe, is vital to addressing evolving user needs and providing the flexibility and certainty they require.

One classroom, two delivery modes

To this end, PM-Partners has integrated the best of virtual training with the benefits of in-centre learning to offer a choice of delivery modes on every course.
In-class learning

This includes a significant investment in virtual technology to ensure remote customers experience the same engagement levels and learning outcomes as their in-person peers.

Regardless of whether participants are looking to bolster traditional PM skills with a PRINCE2® certification, or help their organisation embrace agility at the enterprise level with SAFe®, they can choose to dial in from a remote location or turn up in person. Either way, learners will enjoy the same bespoke classroom environment equipped to meet their needs, led by a skilled, live instructor.

What’s more, because it’s one course with two delivery modes, customers can chop and change their preference based on personal circumstances, organisational needs, or the latest health advice. If a worker is forced into quarantine, for instance, they can simply switch to virtual learning and keep their training spot.

Mirroring workplace trends

This innovative, new delivery model draws on our 25 years’ of training experience combined with recent learnings, particularly from the COVID lockdown period, which saw us flip from in-person courses to 100% virtual almost overnight. It’s also based on recent research around the impact of the pandemic on our working lives and what our customers are telling us they want.

While trends towards workplace flexibility were apparent prior to the pandemic, COVID has dramatically accelerated this transition. Being forced to work from home has not been without its challenges but we’ve adapted rapidly and it appears many would rather forgo their daily commute.

A global survey of employees found that on average they wish to continue working remotely two to three days a week as health restrictions ease.

With the growing body of evidence around improved staff retention and productivity, employers are also increasingly likely to consider flexible work requests.

By offering more choice we’re meeting this drive towards working more independently, ensuring workers have access to global best practice courses no matter their schedule or location. We’re also providing confidence that whatever happens there will be no adverse impact on their ability to build the skills and capabilities they need, when they need them.

Harnessing technology

To work effectively, this approach leans heavily on technology to connect and engage learners. One of the good things to come out of lockdowns is that workers have been forced to familiarise themselves with digital communication tools, to the point where holding meetings via Zoom or MS Teams has become second nature. In the process, we’ve been able to iron out many of the traditional stumbling blocks experienced by virtual learners.

While cries of ‘Can you hear/see me?’, ‘So…r..r..y, my kids… are… on Netflix’ and ‘How do I blur my background?’ were commonplace in the early days, user errors have significantly declined as learners have become more familiar with the technology and we’ve adapted our approach. If issues do occur, we have a dedicated technical assistant in every classroom to minimise distractions.

As a result, we’re now able to use more sophisticated audio-visual equipment and learning tools. Each of our dual-mode classrooms features the following:

  • 98” interactive ultra-fine touch displays
  • built-in digital white board collaboration software
  • 4-way split screen content sharing software
  • choice of virtual meeting platforms
  • high speed nbn™ broadband
  • remote controlled, ‘follow-me’ camera systems
  • 9 in-ceiling microphone arrays
  • surround sound speakers

Body language and voice are critical to effective learning, and these inclusions ensure both remote and in-centre participants can see and hear everything clearly. Whether training solo or with your team, cutting-edge collaboration tools also provide learners with the opportunity to tap into the diversity of the group and enrich their experience.

The multi-modal trainer

In this setting it obviously takes a highly trained instructor to orchestrate everything, particularly when it comes to engaging both sets of learners. As people get more used to the hybrid workplace, the expectation will be there that they can dial into a training session, just like they dial into a Zoom meeting. The challenge however is ensuring they fully participate.

As well as being experts in their field, our trainers possess the fine art of being able to communicate and engage in both in-person and virtual delivery modes.

It’s critical that all learners feel part of the same class so this starts with setting up the room so all the elements and perspectives work in harmony. Trainers also have a variety of tricks at their disposal to encourage collaboration and interactivity and ensure the experience is a seamless one. These include:

  • changing views to make an attendee the presenter
  • screen sharing to display content
  • virtual icebreakers and games
  • breakout groups for activities/discussions
  • conducting polls and tests
  • interactive whiteboard sessions
  • visual collaboration features like sticky notes
  • chat panels and Q&As.

With the right technology and experience at their fingertips, trainers are able to mastermind this new world and provide virtual as well as in-person attendees with valuable opportunities for kinaesthetic learning. This means all learners can achieve that deeper level of understanding that only comes from ‘doing’, while also problem solving and networking with peers.

We have far more to gain from reinvention than from chasing a normal that no longer exists. Combining the virtual and physical delivery modes gives our customers the freedom to train in a way that mirrors their flexible work arrangements and provides the same high quality training regardless of where they learn.

As each state follows their respective roadmaps, employers and employees can also be assured that if/when disruption occurs, their training schedules can stay on track. Thriving in a competitive landscape demands a commitment to continuous learning, but in uncertain times the ability to upskill and bridge knowledge gaps is more crucial than ever.

To learn more about taking advantage of our new flexible approach to training delivery, contact one of our professional development consultants, or call 1300 70 13 14 today.

Mike Boutel

Mike Boutel

Head of Training

Nekta Vamvoukakis

Nekta Vamvoukakis

Corporate Training Consultant

Jourdan Clark

Jourdan Clark

Professional Development Manager

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