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The Future of the Post-Pandemic Corporate Classroom

"Employees are experiencing widespread 'Zoom fatigue'," Dr. David Knapp, a DTG training consultant, shared with me earlier this year before mass vaccination roll-outs were implemented.

Now that the majority of the U.S. workforce has been vaccinated, however, we're noticing organizations are feeling freer to offer in-person training delivery once again, much to the relief of their video-fatigued employees. But lately, the Delta variant is throwing a wrench into a company's future training plans, and many decision-makers are finding once again they may need to revert to video conferencing for their team gatherings. 

On the other hand, for the past year, many employees have been feeling some relief from the day-to-day office environment and the stresses that go along with having to be fully present 9-to-5 five days a week and find virtual meetings and training sessions to be an acceptable format for group exchanges. In addition, many companies since going remote in 2020 have decided to never return to an office setting, once they realized the upsides and cost savings. 

Given the fact there's a clear split between those who clamor for in-person dialogue and healthy exchanges of ideas, and those who are happy to maintain status quo as a part of a virtual team (or are now part of a permanent one), what can we expect for the future of the post-pandemic corporate classroom?

In response to that question, Onrec.com, an online recruitment resource, published an article earlier this year which included an interview with The Denver Training Group and touched upon the benefits and challenges of classroom learning vs. online learning. 

"Our training consultants are hearing of 'Zoom fatigue' on a widespread basis, and employees are looking forward to the time post-pandemic when they can attend in-house training sessions again," says Linda Guyette Anderson of The Denver Training Group, a leadership training firm in Denver, Colorado. "Even though there are many who are happy they no longer have to commute to the office and are fine with regularly meeting over a video-conferencing app, we're getting the sense that the majority of employees have learned over the past year they would much rather meet up in person for classroom instruction."

But now that we've gotten a taste of the reality of virtual learning and its benefits (and drawbacks), our transition to a "new normal" will likely resemble a hybrid solution (blended learning), that offers a combination of the benefits of remote learning and in-person learning. Some of the hybrid environment trends will likely include:

  • Implementing a Learning Management System (LMS) that acts as a portal for team resources, discussion, and sharing of electronic documents
  • Taking part in upfront reading about key points discussed during the in-person training sessions to allow for more in-depth dialogue
  • Viewing prerecorded webinars that cover essential material and can be revisited periodically to refresh learning
  • Uploading homework to the LMS
  • Engaging in virtual follow-up sessions for reinforcing the core learning along with in-person coaching

Even though blended learning has actually been evolving since the early 2000s, this new form of hybrid learning solution is clearly becoming a popular choice arising from our pandemic's forced circumstances. As noted in our 2020 Trends for the Training & Development Industry article, a majority of organizations polled last year are planning to implement such a solution. 

  • 54% plan to implement a combination of instructor-led classroom training and remote learning
  • 14% plan to maintain remote learning
  • 12% plan to completely return to instructor-led classroom training
  • 11% plan to maintain remote learning and implement new instructor-led classroom training

This trend toward hybrid will likely continue to take root as a foundational system of corporate learning as we learn how to blend our constantly evolving technology with classroom training and coaching.