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Adapting Learning & Development to Optimize the Hybrid Workplace

Waldron Hybrid WorkplaceIn the wake of abrupt changes and ongoing disruptions, businesses stay competitive by taking an agile, future-facing posture. This means having leaders and employees with skills that can acclimate to updated business models and embrace new ways of getting work done. 

The hybrid model is now a mainstay with many organizations favoring a choice or rotation between in-office and remote work. Its flexibility meets the job market demand for better work-life balance to help hire and retain top talent. However, a multi-faceted work environment comes with challenges.  

When people are spread out across various locations, it can put a strain on communication, teamwork, and collaboration. Assessing and addressing learning needs and career pathing may also be more difficult. For these reasons, learning infrastructures must be adapted. Employers must provide training and resources to set employees up for success in hybrid working. The company will reap the benefits when they’re equipped to be productive and efficient. 

Responsive leaders with the right mindset and some best practices can guide L&D through the dynamics of a hybrid workplace. 

Understanding your leader mindset  

With any new endeavor, your approach impacts the outcomes. With the call for agile leaders growing increasingly louder, it’s important to recognize the mindset from which you (and those you need to influence) operate from in implementing new L&D methods.   

Having self-awareness of your mindset is the first critical element in the process as it informs the context you hold and operate within. In a Harvard Business Review article “To Be a Great Leader, You Need the Right Mindset,” the authors’ research points to four distinct sets of mindsets that influence a leader’s abilities. These are:   

  • Growth and fixed mindsets  
  • Learning and performance mindsets  
  • Deliberative and implemental mindsets  
  • Promotion and prevention mindsets  

The article presents each in detail; however, there are a couple of points worth noting: 

Leaders who tend toward a growth mindset are more mentally wired to take on challenges and dive into problem-solving strategies to achieve goals.   


Leaders with a deliberative mindset tend to be more receptive to change, making more accurate and less biased decisions in how information has been considered.   

If you hold one of the other mindsets, it is not inferring you are an ineffective leader. It points to how you might approach partnering with someone with an opposite mindset, especially for significant shifts or change initiatives where those mindsets naturally operate within. 

Understanding your behavioral tendencies will guide your approach toward action and change. Perhaps an even more important takeaway from understanding mindset is that of those you need to influence to make this change happen. Once you recognize the behaviors associated with those you need to be involved in making this shift, you can then tailor your approach to how your audience operates and makes decisions.  

Best practices for delivering learning and & development in a hybrid workplace 

Ensuring that L&D doesn’t lapse in a flexible work structure requires a commitment to change and thoughtful preparation. The following tips will help guide you in equipping teams with needed growth, coaching, and skills development: 

1. Review and update your L&D strategy

Even the most effective L&D strategies must be adapted for a hybrid workforce. Training content and delivery methods will need to be modified to remain relevant and suit a flexible work model.  

  • Be sure that your L&D strategy incorporates any changes that have been made to the organizational culture, objectives, or vision. Measure outcomes by how they support these.  

  • Encourage a continual learning mindset by empowering employees to pursue improvement and experimentation. Support this by coordinating various forms of training that form communities of learning and collaboration, such as group or team learning sessions.

  • Acknowledge that the career lifecycle may be more of a lattice than a ladder because organizational structures tend to be flatter and employment tenures are shorter.

  • Temporary assignments and lateral moves offer on-the-job training and new skills development to expand expertise.

  • Assess who your learners are. Many companies have added freelance and temporary workers into the mix who may benefit from training and development opportunities.

  • Put accessible, interactive feedback loops into place. Learning facilitators need to hear from learners to know what is working and what needs improvement.

    Waldron Leadership Training

2. Assess training needs and opportunities for every level

Although certain training requirements remain the same, the hybrid workplace prompts new critical skills areas that must be taken into consideration.  

  • There is an increased need for leadership development. Leaders need to understand how to navigate the back and forth of hybrid working and adapt to variable environments. Agility, flexibility, and emotional intelligence are key competencies for leaders. 

  • Leaders should have techniques to help them cope with varied environments and lack of in-person interactions with their employees. This may require instruction on clearly communicating expectations and holding teams accountable. 

  • Because remote working requires autonomy, self-management, and strong communication, there should be a focus on soft skills learning.  

  • Hybrid work situations can expose a digital skills gap. Reskilling or upskilling employees to meet technology demands may be necessary. 

  • A hybrid workforce needs to know how to use virtual tools effectively. Some people will need more in-depth training for basic operations, and everyone should be able to leverage the tools for maximum use. 

  • Teamwork skills may slip when people aren’t physically together. Provide modules on collaboration and inclusion. Also, to ensure everyone feels respected, it may be necessary to remind everyone what professional behavior in remote meetings looks like.

  • Trust must exist at a higher level when teams are not together all the time. Managers may not be able to closely monitor productivity, and employees may feel disconnected from them. Educate leaders on where their talent management efforts are needed most and how to give equal guidance and attention to employees.

  • Employees working online from multiple locations pose cybersecurity risks. They need to be well-informed about protecting sensitive data and preventing viruses and cyberattacks.  

Waldron Virtual Training3. Determine methods and resources for virtual learning 

There are various ways to deliver training and principles to keep in mind for the hybrid workplace:  

  • Factor in the various options for conducting training. (Pre-recorded, virtual instructor-led, real-time with participants either physically present or virtually connected, etc.) 

  • Take into account that live virtual training sessions may need to occur at multiple times to accommodate varying work schedules.  

  • Consider self-guided training to accommodate certain learning styles. Allocate the required time into work schedules. 

  • Find ways to increase engagement, such as interactive content, a variety of visual formats, interesting activities, informal polls, and open-ended questions.   

  • Incorporate microlearning to share quick bites of information that are readily available when and where employees need it. 

  • Opt for emerging learning avenues like scenario-based, simulations, or game-based solutions to increase learner engagement. 

  • Find ways to integrate learning into day-to-day interactions, such as team meetings, group projects, and digital materials. 

  • Create situations for coaching and mentoring interactions and cross-functional projects. 

  • Be prepared with backup plans for times when participants have connectivity issues. 

Waldron Happy Individual4. Highlight individuality and wellness 

Personality traits influence how people experience work situations. For example, an introverted person may enjoy the solitude of working remotely yet feel less comfortable speaking up during virtual meetings. An extroverted person who thrives on the energy of others may feel depleted when they work remotely. 

In a recent Gallup poll, 61% of employees ranked personal well-being and work-life balance as the most important factor when contemplating a job offer. Effective career development acknowledges employees as individuals and infuses wellness and psychological safety to help create better hybrid working conditions.  

  • Require regular one-on-ones. Meeting with a direct supervisor gives employees visibility and voice and more opportunity for feedback for moving forward on their career paths. This can’t be skimped on when employees aren’t in the office. 

  • Create individual development plans that move beyond competency matrices and detail actionable steps employees can take, such as obtaining a professional certification, volunteering to lead a project team, etc.  

  • Design learning scenarios where employees can practice skills while feeling safe taking risks, failing, and trying again.  

  • Encourage supervisors to lead with a consultative style, practice active listening, and be open-minded to employee input. 

  • Cultivate innovation by promoting the viewpoint that mistakes and failures are learning opportunities.  

  • Give people control over their career development by offering customizable employee learning that accommodates different learning styles and specific aspirations.  

  • Integrate learning situations on a variety of wellness topics.  

Closing thoughts  

Although it may not look the same in every organization, the hybrid work model is woven into the fabric of today’s business world. A reimagined L&D approach is needed to take full advantage of what a flexible, digital workforce has to offer. The right content and use of technology solutions are key, but prioritizing employees’ preferences and needs will set them and, in turn, the organization up for success