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It was not long ago that I had launched my company and was writing my thoughts on the year 2021. Here we are, weeks, if even from 2022. In 18 short months, we have seen huge leaps and bounds happening in our world. I know that I still have a hard time processing the fact that we are still in a global pandemic, despite my attempts to deny it. But the road ahead looks bright, people are getting back to work, and working may look different for some of us. With 2022 in mind, what's on my mind, and what predictions do I have for learning and development as we approach the new year?

1. What is the future of work and why does it matter?

What we know culturally as "work" has shifted. Although the shift, in my opinion, was happening years prior, with companies like GrubHub and Uber making their way into the "gig" workspace. What we once knew as the traditional 9-5 job is being pushed by the wayside for more balance and flexibility.

This podcast episode of Hidden Brain makes some interesting points about work culture history, as well as discusses a work from home study the guest speaker, Nicholas Bloom discusses.

I anticipate that in 2022 and beyond, we will continue to see a shift in the job market, and many jobs of today may not exist. Many restaurants for example are finding it difficult to fill positions for servers and bussers. Many of these positions are physical, require untraditional hours and in some cases, these individuals are treated poorly by customers. To innovate, many restaurants may be looking at order options that eliminate the server, replacing them with mobile apps, machines, or counter ordering.

According to a study partnered by Oxford Economics and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 60% of US respondents to the survey indicated they are still concerned with maintaining productivity given the new ways of working (SHRM, 2021).

Why does this matter?

This shift in the job market will make way for new opportunities. Opportunities may exist for employers and employees to upskill current staff to stay current with consumer trends. Employers may save on overhead costs, which may allow for more training and opportunities for employees. There may also be opportunities to offer perks like flexible shifts, as one statistic reports, nearly 49% of gig workers like the ability to control their schedules (Pew, 2021). Additionally, although it will take time, a shift in the mindset culture that employees have to be at their desks from 9-5 to be productive. This could allow for opportunities to measure what productivity means for roles in an organization.

2. More organizations onboard with hybrid or self-paced learning

I get asked a lot if I believe companies will go back to in-person training. In short, yes and no.

In-person training courses will still be a part of traditional training offerings by many organizations. Humans are social creatures by nature and there is something to be said for learning alongside peers and feeling the energy in a classroom. However, new opportunities are at our fingertips.

Before the pandemic, many organizations used in-person training as their primary way to train their teams. The pandemic left many scrambling to find ways to meet training needs while safely distancing. Enter the Zoom era.

And just like that, our learning culture shifted where it is now commonplace to host training, meetings, and even social gatherings in the virtual space. As we have already seen, I anticipate that many training budgets will adjust to accommodate more virtual-live or even self-paced courses. I believe there is an opportunity for organizations to explore more ways to distribute information to employees through virtual channels, whether it be zoom, a learning management system, or through an app on their phone. These opportunities offer cost savings for the organization and flexibility for the employee to choose how they learn new skills.

3. Virtual reality training

Virtual reality isn't new to the training space. I anticipate that the industry will see more virtual reality-based training programs. The benefit of virtual reality is that it allows an employee to practice their skills in a simulated environment without risking customer integrity. For instance, a cashier can practice using a cash register with virtual customers and this doesn't impact productivity on the customer line. Additionally, doctors or veterinarians can practice new skills without putting humans or animals in harm's way.

I expect going forward that many organizations will increase their digital training presence. Additionally, I believe it will be important for employers to consider upskilling employees in order to remain relevant in the commercial space. Learning and development leaders need to have a strong understanding of how digital technology can benefit not only their bottom line but their employees.

Are you ready to explore the future of workplace learning in your organization? We would love to hear from you. Learn. Work. Grow with us!

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