As the dust settles and hybrid work-life is acceptable, flexibility acts as the cornerstone of any working culture. Coming into the office for 2 or 3 days per week is commonplace; it finally feels like this could be ‘the new norm’ for many years to come.
However, at Arcadia, we like to dig deeper — not to just assume but question the change in behaviour and understand what’s making the workplace tick. And crucially what aspects of work-life require in-person engagements for everyone to get the biggest benefit.
A great place to start is to understand where leaders and individual contributors are spending their time and effort training and learning new skills. There has been a seismic shift in how people participate in training programmes, with offerings that include a range of formats: face-to-face, e-learning, gamification, podcasts, and research papers, but which one of these has the greatest impact on building culture?
We asked some of our senior leaders across 65 organisations1 in Singapore what their thoughts on the subject were.
Although most organisations now have the capability for digital training, with obvious benefits associated with this method (e.g., accessibility to more people across multiple locations), it appears that the outlook for planned training across the remainder of 2022 is a mixed bag. 90% of organisations are implementing hybrid training (combination of in-person and digital) as opposed to all digital or all in-person.
After 2 years of COVID, nothing beats face to face! We need to take as much opportunity we possibly can to meet, train, and bond face to face and not only make virtual the default.
- CEO of a multinational technology company
We found that there is a clear trend towards certain subjects preferred for in-person training vs. virtual. These subjects are considered business-critical, not only for decision making but also for building culture, and therefore justify the extra spending and effort, often delivered with smaller group sizes.
With an emphasis on overall employee wellbeing, it’s essential that employers offer their teams an opportunity to properly engage in activities to help them to continue learning new ideas, beyond the traditional subjects of workplace training, into meatier subjects such as Resilience and Growth Mindset. If this need isn’t met, then it will be no surprise to see employees seeking an organisation elsewhere that satisfies this.
The key areas that these critical topics fall into are ones:
Virtual training brings great benefits such as bite sized learning, the ability to follow up with application and coaching labs, having the team together across multiple locations, inclusivity, and equity of learning opportunities.
There is something unique and special, however, that supersedes this in a face-to-face environment. People are more present, less distracted, more human. It’s more organic. Participants can apply things in the moment, ask a question, interrupt, chime-in real-time. There is a certain energy in the group that allows for more.
- Leader at an Asian luxury fashion brand
In addition to leaders’ desire to ensure that core topics are ringfenced for in-person engagement, there is also evidence to suggest appreciation that it gives to the overall workplace, where softer measures are essential, e.g., company values and purpose, team building, and engaging all individuals into shaping process. Too much digital learning that has not been tailored specifically for the audience could have a negative impact on mindset and attitudes.
165 organisations: 90% Singapore; 71% employ more than 250 employees. The survey data was collected by web form with multiple choice and free-form text inputs.