The Power of Hybrid Classrooms in the Hybrid Workplace

A hybrid way of working is both the present and the future. To make it a success in your organization, you need a well-thought strategy, enabled by dedicated tech solutions and supported by reliable partners. Hybrid classrooms can be part of your hybrid work strategy as versatile, highly engaging, human-centred platforms.

Hybrid-classroom-enabled experiences consist in live sessions with some participants and the instructor present in the classroom and some participants connected remotely at the same time. They are made possible by powerful software, a stable internet connection and AV equipment such as cameras, screens and microphones in the physical classroom.

Hybrid classrooms are versatile solutions and can be used first and foremost in training, be it as the primary method for training or as part of a blended program with participants at times coming all to the physical classroom or joining fully remotely. But they can also be great solutions for onboarding, all-hands meetings or interactive internal events.

1. Design the most effective hybrid working environment

While the shift to remote work was sudden in 2020, it happened with an overwhelming degree of success. A report by PwC reveals that 83% of employers and 71% of employees consider it a success. That is why, a hybrid workplace is expected to become the norm, with 74% of the same respondents preferring to work remotely at least 2 days per week post-pandemic.

Exact preferences will vary from organization to organization, so consult with employees to find the hybrid work sweet spot before beginning the design of the hybrid workplace. An organization´s headquarters will be less for individual work and more for engaging onsite and remote workers simultaneously.

New, suitable, tech-enabled but efficient and human-centered ways must be devised for training, engaging and onboarding employees, organizing internal meetings and events.

The hybrid environment should be designed with inclusive collaboration in mind, giving everyone an equal place at the proverbial table regardless of location. That might include reducing open spaces and setting up more rooms, equipping them with technology supporting hybrid meetings, training and events: dedicated software and hardware (cameras, microphones, whiteboards, etc.).

Hybrid classrooms are purpose-built solutions that will add to your employees´ ideal hybrid workplace. They are digitally-enabled but human-centered and will provide flexibility while maintaining high levels of interaction and in-depth collaboration, for training, all-hands meetings, onboarding or internal events. 

2. Win the war for talent

A well-designed hybrid working environment featuring purpose-built technology such as a hybrid virtual studios can be part of your strategy to engage, delight, drive employee satisfaction and retention, and bring new talent.

Considering resignation rates are at an all-time high, talent managers are facing difficult times. In the US, what is now called the Great Resignation has been under way for the best part of 2021 and the phenomenon shows no sign of abating. The rest of the world follows accordingly. A recent Microsoft Work Trend Index report shows that 41% of global workforces consider leaving their employer in the next year.

The silver lining is that having a well-functioning hybrid workplace will be a key factor in attracting bright, new talent that will take your company forward.

With hybrid classrooms like weConnect, your organization will not only be more likely to retain talent but will be sure to start off the right foot with the newly hired. You can onboard and train them flexibly, and immerse them into company-wide meetings and events that are engaging and interactive.

The reasons are plenty and while financial compensation or not finding purpose in the current job top the list, the lack of a suitable hybrid work policy is among them.

A 2021 US study (Bloomberg News) shows that 39% of workers would consider quitting if their employers proved to be inflexible regarding remote work. The number reached 49% for millennials and Gen Z. In the UK, the situation is similar. 52% of workers stated that they would rather quit their jobs than be forced to go back to the office full time, according to a Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey) study.

Without a well-thought policy in place, redesigned workspaces and purpose-built solutions to enable hybrid successfully, your organization is at risk of a brain drain.

The silver lining is that having a well-functioning hybrid workplace will be a key factor in employee engagement and retention, and in attracting bright, new talent that will take your company forward. 

With a hybrid classrooms like weConnect, your organization will be more likely to retain talent but will be sure to start off the right foot with the newly hired. You can onboard and train them flexibly and immerse them into your organization´s culture via company-wide meetings and events that are engaging and interactive.

3. Train flexibly and successfully in the age of lifelong learning

Advancements in technology, big data and AI are changing the landscape of work, automating jobs, creating new skill gaps and at the same time making some skills redundant.

Lifelong learning, upskilling and reskilling are becoming mandatory in the workplace during a fast-paced era where required skills are changing every few years.

And in the hybrid workplace where employees come to the organization headquarters according to personal preferences, new ways of training have to be developed. 71% of employees agree that lifelong learning needs to be delivered flexibly if they are to engage in it.

It is not only current workers that prefer flexible working and learning. Increasingly more young people are joining the workplace. They demand more remote, flexible, digitalized experiences available at a single tap; but that at the same time have the human factor, are interactive, engaging and collaborative.

Hybrid classrooms are the perfect enabler of flexibility. Participants join, at the same time, either onsite or online, depending on their preferences or based on an agreed-upon schedule. Are they experiencing any last-minute issues? They can join remotely from any place connected to the internet.

 4. Unlock the power of data

As an HR or L&D leader, it is vital to provide tangible results and demonstrate the ROI on your training or employee engagement initiatives.

Technology-powered solutions, such as the Barco weConnect hybrid classroom will help you become more data-driven. They can be of tremendous help and provide insights impossible to generate during face-to-face only sessions.

You can access data on attention, engagement and interaction with the material presented and other participants. You can also track numbers of sessions, participants and instructors using the hybrid classroom.

These insights will help you understand how well content is being assimilated by participants, and also adjust methods and optimize employee journeys. Gathering data opens the door to personalization and engagement analytics can improve employees performance and instructor efficiency.

Overall, this will enhance the upskilling and reskilling outcomes needed for securing a bright future for your company. 

Written for OEB Global 2022 by Damian Keane

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