If there's one thing we've learned from the COVID-19 experience it's that corporations need to be prepared with an effective teleworker strategy. Organisations that were able to transition quickly to remote working were able to maintain business as usual, and minimise the crippling effects on the economy, caused by the pandemic. Looking forward, we explore what that means for workforce planning and development post-COVID 19.
What will the new workforce look like in 2021?
The evidence is clear. Both you, as an employer, and your workforce see many benefits in being able to work remotely. Think of all those car bays, work stations and office space you'd no longer need to maintain! For your employees it means more flexible arrangements where technology can create a better balance between work and family-time. Your employees can be more productive if they don't spend hours each week travelling to and from the office. One employee said.
I thought I missed being at work until I hit the morning rush hour in Melbourne. I forgot how much I hated it. Then I realised 'nope - its definitely better working from home".
According to Global Workplace Analytics teleworkers with 80% or more time working at home were less than 4%. Thanks to COVID 19 they estimate that number will jump to about 30% by the end of 2021. Pre-COVID 19 experts estimated about the same number but over a 3 year span, i.e. by 2023. There's not much doubt that the workplace will be changing forever. Thanks to the long established presence of online learning, those numbers are likely to be significantly higher in the specific area of workforce training.
The common misconception is that these aspects have been 'addressed' by using video conferencing tools like Zoom. But the ability to video conference is only one component of the remote workforce solution. It addresses face-to-face communication, meeting administration, screen and file sharing. But there's a lot more to workforce development.
The Training Life-cycle
By evaluating requirements at each stage of the life-cycle you can see that most process are affected by a change to the new work environment. The scenario assumes everyone works remotely.
1. Capability Planning
This is an Admin function, usually performed annually. It involves communication with trainers and business units to review and update the your organisation's capability framework. If the stakeholders work remotely, communication would best be served using a video conferencing tool and documents that can be shared remotely either in the LMS or via a web based EDMS. This phase also requires remote admin access to the training management system to update online and F2F training components, assessments,workflows, and templates.
2. Role Development Plans
These are essentially role based training plan templates that will be inherited by employees as they migrate through positions and roles. The training plan is a complete snapshot of each employees training profile. It applies to both career aspirations and to currency maintenance (professional development). As with the previous step this is an admin function where the stakeholders are managers, supervisors, and administrators. Again the same remote operating systems would be required if the participants are working remotely.
3. Training Event Scheduling
This stage involves scheduling courses, workshops, This would be the role of the scheduling administrator. Once again the process is highly collaborative. This person needs to understand resource availability for people classrooms, equipment. This could require access to video conferencing, team calendars and the LMS to create and modify schedules and activities.
Enrolments are the most complex of all processes since they can be performed in several ways and by multiple users.
- Self enrolment - by the learners
- Team leader enrolment - by a manager on behalf of the learner
- Back-end Admin enrolments - by your admin team
- Auto enrolments - by matching training requirements to available seats at training events
Here, communication and workflow is vital to replace the normal in-office person-to-person dialogue that would normally occur. The Learning Management System needs to give your learners access to an easy-to-use learner portal. That portal should enable them to access resources and training materials. In most cases these resources would be stored on your intranet, so the student portal will require secure access to the document management system. That requires integration and extensive security modelling and testing. That can be expensive.
5. Training Delivery
Typically, this takes place in 3 parts:
- Attendance at one or more training events or workshops
- Assessment, which can include on-the-job, or workplace training
- Validation. leading to award of the capability, certification or authorisation
In most cases attendance at theory-based components and workshops can be delivered remotely. Validation is often a desktop process combined with stakeholder meetings. This too can be conducted remotely. Again good video conferencing, team-based documents and workflows are critical to your success. But the most important tools in your armoury are the learner and trainer portals (literally: doorway) to your business systems.
But Assessment is a different story, particularly if the workplace environment requires a lot of expensive equipment and an environment that is not possible for the average learner to replicate at home. In some cases it's possible to use workplace simulators to do a lot of the assessment work, but at some point the learner will be expected to demonstrate competency in real work environment. For many organisations and entire industries, replacing face-to-face assessments may never be a reality. But that's OK. If Assessment is the only F2F participation required you've still ticked many of the boxes for remote training and development.
6. Certification, Accreditation, Authorisation
These are just some of the terms used to denote that a learner ha completed training and has been deemed fit for work. These capabilities are generally ratified with a registered document, e.g. a license, certificate, permit or authority. For remote processing these documents normally require special media with fraud protection and secure identification. These are not practical for a remote student to print at home. But they can be sent by registered mail. And they can be accompanied by entries in an online register. Automated workflow is more important in a remote workforce. These may require time and effort to work through and implement the logic.
Workflows prior to certification include:
- Study plan creation, approval and changes
- Enrolment confirmation
- Schedule change notices
- Reminders for Training, Assessments due
- Training progress
- Timetable notice and changes
- Training completion
Post certification learners generally need to complete professional development course and activities or maintain currency in a role. Online courses are usually a great way to deliver and assess PD, but the other tools mentioned apply equally, i.e. video conferencing, document access, ability to participate in online training and quizzes. All of this should be confuted via a portal.One important post certification workflow is expiry notification and reminders. Many industries require course such as first aid that have 3-year expiry dates. Providing employees with timely notices and reminders is critical in a remote workforce.
7. Compliance and Operational Reporting
If you're an Enterprise RTO (Government / non-Government) you'll need to submit AVETMISS NAT files annually as a minimum. There's no real difference here for Remote workers, except that your compliance officer and admin team will need access to the system to generate and validate the NAT files. They may also need to video conference with each other on any validation errors and warnings.
Operational reporting and dashboards are a must in every business, but even more so if your team is remote. Managers need access to up-to-date reports to track the health of the business and to make decisions. Online access and report notification is vital information for a remote management team. This determines the type of Reporting technology to consider when choosing your LMS and other related business systems.
Here at Bluegem, we've invested heavily in the R&D necessary to solve these problems. Bluegem combined with Office 365 and Power BI reports provides a complete LMS for blended training environments.
- Secure, reliable cloud based solutions hosted on the Azure Platform
- Portals for Learners and all stakeholders involved in training and development
- Capability Framework
- Role Development Plans
- Multiple Enrolment methods, including Auto enrolment
- AVETMISS / USI Compliant
- Registered Document with QR Code (Certificates, Licenses, etc.)
- Dashboards and Reports
- Built-in or integrated EDMS and Learning resources
- SCORM / xApi / cmi5 compliant LMS
- Fully documented Web API + Queryable OData 4 endpoints
- Supports multiple authentication models and Single Sign On (SSO)
- Integrates with Office 365, Teams, Power BI, HRMIS and Fin Reporting systems
- User configurable workflows
- much more...
We encourage you to book a demo to learn more and register for our next webinar.