The Future is here: Workplace Learning Reinvented

Posted on January 10, 2017

Jennifer Juo

Jennifer Juo

HR and L&D Insights Writer, Udemy for Business

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Imagine a future workplace where new recruits are virtually touring your corporate campus and meeting avatars of your team, employees are tapping into an AI-powered coach who learns from their mistakes and makes recommendations, or using a smart bracelet to monitor employee sentiment. This future is not far off and beginning to happen at companies today, according to a new book The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees by Jeanne Meister and Kevin Mulcahy.

Technology is rapidly disrupting the workplace, causing HR to entirely rethink the employee experience—from how to design workspaces to effectively nurturing continuous learning. Based on a global survey and in-depth interviews with 100 HR and business executives at companies like Airbnb to Cisco, authors Meister and Mulcahy highlighted 10 rules to help HR master this disruption and transform their organizations into workplaces of the future. Embracing on-demand learning is one of the rules (rule #6) necessary to transform into a future-oriented workplace.

Knowledge doubles every 12 hours

A key driver behind rule #6 is IBM’s forecast that human knowledge around intelligent products like the Internet of Things is now doubling every 12 hours. With knowledge doubling every 12 hours, are companies and their learning leaders ready for this brave new world, asks Meister and Mulcahy?

Here are some of their key pieces of advice to shake up learning at corporations.

Learning at the speed of business

Critical to future-oriented learning & development departments (L&D) is helping employees learn “at the speed of business.” This involves nurturing the “serial learner” to continuously learn as a way to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape and avoid becoming obsolete.

To achieve serial learning, Meister and Mulcahy recommend employees must “own their learning” and companies must embrace on-demand learning by offering employees a marketplace of learning opportunities including a mix of all types of learning—integrating TED talks, podcasts, online learning videos, and other forms of informal learning plus the company’s own customized development programs.

In this new era of rapid technological innovation, AT&T chairman and chief executive, Randall Stephenson, shared in a New York Times article, that he strongly believes in order for his company to survive, he must embed a culture of learning. He feels A&T employees should be spending 5-10 hours per week learning online or risk becoming obsolete.

Shift the mindset to on-demand learning

In order to meet this challenge according to Meister and Mulcahy, the serial learner requires corporate L&D to shift their mindset, budget, and resources from developing formal training to curating on-demand learning experiences from a diversity of sources.

A key feature of this new experience is the consumerization of learning. Employees, increasingly composed of millennials who are digital natives, expect a learning platform that mirrors how they order a movie on Netflix or a book on Amazon with ratings, reviews, and personalized recommendations.

Flipping the classroom

Video-based online learning providers also play an important role in a new approach called “flipping the classroom.” Learners engage in learning via short videos prior to formal instruction, and then reinforce concepts post-classroom through online discussion groups, videos, one-on-one coaching, and learning analytics dashboards.

Finally, as corporate learning meets the new workplace of the future, Meister and Mulcahy outline the skills L&D departments will need to be successful, such as marketing & communications skills, community building, curation, and editorial planning.

For more on the future of learning and to discover the other 9 rules to transform your company into the workplace of tomorrow, read Jeanne Meister and Kevin Mulcahy’s highly engaging book, packed with interesting case studies, survey research and advice from HR and L&D company leaders: The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees.

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