The future of learning and development and how to adapt it for a virtual world


By Jane Sparrow

There’s not much that remains as it was when it comes to the corporate environment, given the widespread impact of COVID-19. As well as our physical working location, the way we meet and share information and the way we socialise and connect with our colleagues – the other thing to have been significantly affected is how we learn and develop. This has been evident in the number of learning and development programmes we have been supporting clients to adapt, evolve and re-purpose – as well as the number of new programmes we are crafting to upskill leaders of the future world. 

I spoke to a CEO we are working with recently who has chosen to ‘gift’ a copy of our latest book on effective remote working to all of his people. That would have been a development opportunity in itself for his team but he’s gone one step further and is asking people to share what remote working tip from the book they’re working on, how they’re applying that learning and what they’re doing differently as a result. It’s stimulating a really rich personal development conversation in every virtual team meeting about what people are learning and how they’re growing. It’s the perfect example of how the approach to learning and development is evolving, particularly in an increasingly virtual world. 

We’re working with a range of organisations right now on evolving learning and development strategy, transitioning learning and development plans into a more virtual delivery solution, reimagining what the offering is in the context of the pandemic and also forward planning and future proofing to ensure people and talent continue to get what they need to grow and in turn, power their organisations to grow too. 

So, what are the key learning and development trends we’re seeing and what can we expect from the future?

There’s many, many employees of organisations across the world, who prior to the start of 2020, had never experienced virtual learning or development (or if they had it was minimal) – whether that’s a live online session, on-demand content or a podcast. People have had to adapt – and fast – and in the main, they have taken the leap of faith, been successful and have seen the light! 

We’ve seen a number of things happen in the learning and development space as a result of this. This has included an increase in intent around personal development (as well as a desire for consistency), a very real challenge to align learning and development strategy with constantly moving business goal posts and individuals, teams and organisations grabbing the opportunity now to explore what they’ve learnt about themselves, each other and the organisation – as well as what this means for the future and how teams might work together going forward. 

There’s also much being talked about when it comes to the question of ‘what does this all mean?’ – for business, for life, and for the way we learn and grow in the future. We’ve got a number of key predictions and things to watch for going forward into a virtual learning and development future. A big move to virtual is an obvious one but we’re also expecting a much more fluid, dynamic approach to learning and development, a far greater range of content, stimulus and access options, a significant shift in leader and people manager development and an increasing role of experience in virtual learning and development. 

Our full white paper on the future of learning and development in a virtual world 

There’s certainly a lot going on and a lot changing in the learning and development space, globally, and there’s no doubt lots to come yet. Whatever your organisation’s situation, what employees need is some clarity around what the learning plan looks like and what employers need is a clear narrative on how it’s going to support the business plan (however short term that is right now!). Learning and development priorities should be focused and completely baked into the future plan – it is a key enabler to achieve that plan, after all. This is even more essential where budgets are tight to ensure that resources are focused in the right place to take individuals, teams and the organisation in the direction they want to go in the future. 

Click here to view our full white paper on how learning and development is adapting and the future of learning and development in a virtual world.  

Find out more about our live virtual learning and development programmes here or get in touch to discuss your requirement.