March 23rd 2020 proved to be a pivotal point in the way we all worked and for us, how we delivered all of our leadership learning. Practically overnight Zoom and MS Teams became the new norm for how we coached, led, and learned with and from each other, all over the world.

Perhaps, like many, you initially believed that this would be a stop gap situation, or maybe (the wiser amongst you) you were able to foretell what lay ahead.

Last year we all strived to maintain leadership momentum, beat isolation, and make the most of our time with our loved ones – but as time goes on, and we enter the new year, unfortunately with a new lock down in the UK, it’s definitely worth taking a step back to appreciate what has been achieved during the pandemic shake up and what changes have actually been for the better.

Virtual learning – what’s good about it?

  1. Responsiveness – the turnaround time between identifying current learning needs and designing and delivering learning solutions can be condensed
  2. Scheduling – learning programmes (particularly company-wide ones) are not complicated by diary challenges, travel, and overnight stays
  3. Cost – training budgets are focussed on learning and not compromised by catering and venues costs
  4. Accessibility – virtual sessions are recordable and reusable; they can reach a global audience
  5. Flexibility – shorter session times aid learner concentration and higher retention of knowledge
  6. Virtual learning facilitates collaboration and encourages digital skill-building
  7. Breakout rooms are effective for small group work and teambuilding, just as in-person.

The planet is breathing a small sigh of relief, as we reduce our carbon footprint!

How will we learn together in the future?

Jim Collins writes in ‘Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0’:

“Uncertainty is chronic; instability is permanent; disruption is common; and we can neither predict nor govern events. There will be no ‘new normal’; there will only be a continuous series of ‘not normal’ episodes, defying prediction and unforeseen by most of us until they happen.”

There will not be a return to how we worked and how we learned before the coronavirus pandemic and if you agree with the above, neither will there be a ‘new normal’. Like it or not, being able to safeguard learners through social distancing is here to stay for some time to come.

Even with the recent breakthrough with vaccines, suitable venues and safe travel will continue to pose significant challenges to any large-scale face-to-face workshops and even some 121 coaching sessions for the immediate foreseeable future.

So what does the future of workplace learning look like?  In the short-term it certainly seems that leadership learning will largely remain a virtual activity.

Yet we are social animals – and as such, we thrive on interaction with others and there is no substitute for the learning that takes place when physically in the same room as colleagues, sharing knowledge, experience, and insight.

We envisage that learner preference will play a bigger role than before, some will want to resume safe face-to-face sessions, others will prefer virtual facilitation for a while longer – perhaps choosing never to return to in-person sessions if that option is feasible.

We foresee a new hybrid approach developing, a return to blended learning design but with more versatility, interactivity and learner engagement that before 2020 was ever thought possible.

What are your views on how learning will shape up in 2021 and beyond?

Leave your comments in the box below – or reach out to us on + 44 1604 340990 or via to share your thoughts with us.

We look forward to hearing from you.