2021 has been an eventful one, after spending so much of 2020 in our homes, this year saw us adapting to the ‘new normal’ as vaccine rollouts began. The past 12 months saw the rise of NFTs, the Meta-zation of Facebook, and perhaps most importantly, 2021 displayed endless examples of resilience from both individuals and organisations who were forced to assess their positions and adapt in new ways in order to thrive in a period of so much uncertainty.
If there’s one event that many people expected to see in 2021, it was the return to the office, and safe to say that this happened to varying degrees. So, if we’re talking about changes and trends in the professional world, then it’s our job to look back at what this year has meant for training.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that one of the strongest trends has been the shift to virtual training materials. At Trainer Bubble, we’re always working to make our training materials adaptable and accessible without reducing their quality. As training moves outside of the classroom, the popularity of virtual resources continues to grow. After all, no matter how businesses operate, training remains crucial.
Thus, we find two common threads that ran through our trends this year, hybrid-working and working-from-home. The manner in which we function as professionals, as teams, as whole businesses, and as entire industries has seen a ginormous shift over the last few years, and it will likely continue to transform for years to come.
It’s no news to us that e-learning is a powerful tool for training, but much like virtual resources, this year saw a similar lean in its direction. As millions of people now work partially or entirely remotely, businesses can feel more fragmented. E-learning offers organised and consistent training, that can be completed at a time suitable for the learner. It makes sense that many organisations would adopt or grow their usage of this learning tool.
Not only can e-learning be used to help employees remotely develop their skills and knowledge about an enormous variety of topics, but it can also be used to help us adapt to the very thing that has led to its growth in popularity. Again, we find ourselves referring to working from home. Our Working from Home Successfully course has seen major growth in popularity.
Perhaps some of those most greatly affected by the move to remote working are managers and leaders. Not only must they adapt themselves to this new way of working, but they must also support, encourage and lead others to success at the same time. Our Managing a Virtual Team resources and Leading Virtual Teams e-learning are two courses that have seen particular growth over this past year, as businesses sought to (and continue to) equip their line managers with the tools they need to help their organisations continue to grow in a remote environment.
As humans, we’re incredibly adaptable, and the last few years have seen us adjust to circumstances we could’ve never previously imagined. 2021 has seen constant changes in how we work and how we live, and we face a new sense of underlying uncertainty surrounding our professional lives. With the uncertainty and upheaval that the COVID pandemic has created, businesses have more responsibility than ever before to ensure the mental wellbeing of their employees. Thus, our Mental Health Awareness, Psychological Safety and Developing Resilience courses have proven useful to many.
A perhaps more unexpected trend this year is the interest in compliance. Information Security, GDPR and Bribery are just a few examples of such courses that have proven popular this year. Compliance is no less important now that we don’t all find ourselves in the office. Perhaps, if anything it is more significant now than ever before, as business operations become increasingly fragmented and harder to monitor.
The necessity of communication skills and the ability to tackle conflict have grown. As many people have returned to work in some capacity, it’s likely behaviours have changed, and tensions are heightened. For those still working remotely, communication faces new challenges that everyone is still adapting to. Our Communication Skills and Dealing with Conflict courses have been popular.
Ultimately, whilst some of these trends may be more surprising than others, they almost all come back to the need to adapt to, and succeed in the uncertain world we find ourselves living in. So, with this in mind, what can we expect from the next 12 months?
As millions of people have learnt the effectiveness of virtual training and e-learning, it’s likely some businesses may never look back. It has become evident to many that not everyone has to attend a classroom session, and effective learning can be carried out without it. Especially given the additional costs of travel and hiring spaces.
With that said, many of us thrive on thought-sharing, open discussion and healthy debate. We crave interaction and collaboration, even in learning environments, and thus, COVID permitting, it’s very likely classroom learning will rise again.
Only time will tell how many businesses will return to functioning as they used to, as remote working was already on the rise before its rapid acceleration during the pandemic. For this reason, we can expect Leading Virtual Teams to become commonplace, and leadership training to come to the forefront as leaders continue to face new challenges.
In the end, no matter how we work, there is a handful of fundamentally important factors for fulfilling our job roles. Whether we are at home, in the office, or in a classroom; whether we work in finance, sales or marketing, we must be able to communicate, maintain a healthy state of mind, and ensure the safety and security of ourselves and our businesses. Therefore, despite the uncertainty of the year ahead, it is likely we will continue to face new environments and another year of adapting to new things, hence we can assume a number of the same trends from this year will follow us into 2022.