WFH (Work-from-Home) Environment: Experiential Learning and New Dynamics of Work

Work-from-home (WFH) has changed the dynamics of learning and performance in the work environment. For good or bad, this change is situation triggered, rather than an implementation of a well-conceived strategy. 
In WFH environment, learning from friends and peers is almost redundant. In addition to learning, it also induced relationship building which is important for smooth social existence.
The learning through the informal methods is duly complemented with learning through formal means and methods.

Gaining knowledge used to be largely through interactions, sharing, experience, reflections and encounters. Learning through case-studies has been a prominent learning tool, in which the experience and reasons of success and failures of one person / organisation is used in the benefit of the other, without the learner actually going through the experience.

Much of these is being recast and re-oriented with the opening of the forced new paradigm.

Essence of Experiential Learning

In the present environment learning-by-self or learning-by-doing, is the only prominent method, though not essentially the best. This will inflict huge behavioural changes in the personal and work life. The cultural shift in the approach will have prominent reflections on the present format of experiential learning. Workforce is now required to bring in a behaviour change and not just respond to a work challenge.

It has brought in several changes in the approach and the learning process. Welcome to the new world!

Career Opportunities

Newer kind of opportunities, which offer remote working, have emerged. People will have a plethora of opportunities of their preferences. Likewise, organisations have a much wider choice, to associate with most suitable talents from across geographies.

Reorientation

The new orientation towards learning will shift the onus of responsibility is on oneself. People in the workforce will required reassess their career path and trajectory to take effective actions for learning for reskilling or upskilling to achieve their objectives. This will also result in people choosing to change tracks and substantial churn.

The learning which used to be challenge-solution oriented, will become more individual outcome oriented.

Even in WFH, help is always a shout-out away.

Observing Instructions

The policies and procedures at the workplace will required to be redefined to suit the WFH environment.It will need to move from discipline and tacit activities orientation to be more specific performance and objective oriented.

The instructions to workforce will need to be very clear, precise, crisp, specific actions and expected outcomes, and parameters bound.

Change in Relationships

WFH has serious limitations of using experiential learning which will lead to fragile and feeble relationships in team-members. But this will soon entail into another format, in which the people will regroupreaching out to other global communities and re-initiate their learning.

Less is More

WFH workforces are essentially requires to be self-dependent and produce more with less time, less resources, less monitoring, less direct instructions, less infrastructure, less support, less help. The workforce will be required to have more attention span despite the distractions and the family responsibilities. Fragile tech infrastructure like broadband connectivity and PC/laptop issues, will exist and yet the workforce performance will be expected.

Challenge of Forgetting
Experiential learning in the WFH environment has challenges of forgetting, as the learning is based on tools and technologies rather than an actual experience of doing.

In the WFH, the workforce will be required to assimilate knowledge and information through immersive technologies, rather than traditional methods.

Gig Workforce

Managing the gig workforce in WFH environment remains a huge challenge, for their optimum performance and output. They cannot be managed with redundant methods or preconceived mind-sets. Gig’s priorities, objectives, aptitude, knacks, inter-personal behaviour, loyalty, alignment with organisation objectives, commitment, discipline, all are very different from the preconceived observations and experiences. This imposes are high level of uncertainty on the forecasting of the deliveries schedule and costs.

 

Technologies and Tools for Experiential Learning in WFH Environment

  1. Interactive Time and Task Management- Team  members need to be managed for their goals of work of time and tasks, on a constant basis. In digital management, it is important to have accountability and transparency.
  1. Immersive Technologies-Technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and 360 video, should be used to create a real-world workplace experience of the environment. Explaining can be more realistic for ingesting by use of touchpad and stylus-pen for better explaining.
  2. Participation Platform- WFH environment, a digital platform is required for live streaming interactions, documents repository, project management, etc. This will ensure that the learning in the digital environment is effective and ubiquitous.
  1. Gamification- Participative games based on actual workplace enviroments helps WFH workforce to practise, learn, enjoy and improve performance. It also gives safe environment for failing and improving skills and performance in their skill-sets.                        Team Games also improve the interaction and understanding between team members.
  1. Situation Simulations-
    Simulations provide WFH workforce to learn from real-lifelikesituations giving experiential learning for decision making, leadership, problem solving, risk mitigation, team management, etc. These simulated situations can be created and practised by the workforce, enabling them to learn and improve, without going through the actual situation.

Digital tools have a proven and profound effect on WFH workforce for an experiential learning aiming to upskill or reskill and to improve workplace performance. These tools can make the remote working engaging and inflict long term behavioural changes.

The sooner there is an acceptance and adoption to the digital ways of working, working with the workforce will be more streamlined and made more efficient in shortest time. And there is no other option.

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The author, Dr. Sanjeev Patni, is an eLearning evangelist, and advises on implementation of eLearning and adoption of WFH for workforce. He can be reached on dr.sanjeevpatni@gmail.com.

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