Agile Learning in a Pandemic

Notes from the EFMD Agile Learning SIG community call on 31 March 2020

As organisations across Asia and Europe started grappling with the effects of COVID-19, EFMD and  PA Consulting organised a special community call with the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Agile Learning on the topic of agile learning in a pandemic.

Nine learning and development professionals from six organisations joined the call to discuss how the pandemic has affected their organisations, and how they have adapted to these new ways of working.

Three key action-oriented themes emerged from the call:

  • Care and support for frontline staff responding to the crisis
  • Responding quickly to new/emerging business needs
  • Prioritising which F2F learning programmes to ‘virtualise’

LafargeHolcim, EDF, and SwissRe shared their first-hand experience in managing learning in these unprecedented times. Overall, the three companies expressed the need for new virtual content, fast. Topics such as a change in focus towards health and cashflow priorities came up and integrating these into short courses with SME input, as well as relevant information on how to stay engaged while working from home was a recurring theme. Specifically, all three companies have had to make changes to their ways of making content accessible and how they expect their content to be used.

LafargeHolcim have focused on making as much of their face-to-face content virtual as possible, while focusing on creating new content aligned to new business priorities in a short space of time, to ensure consistent communication through this crisis, whereas EDF have created a platform called “UGM On Your Side” in their leadership L&D function which provides relevant content for ‘right now’. This includes help on how to work from home, however, they are also working on developing more specific content to help leaders through this difficult time.

SwissRe talked about their virtualising of about 80% of their learning programmes and have found that by partnering with external vendors, they were able to create content that was both relevant and engaging for participants​. They found that by creating engaging content and allowing for employees to block out a certain time for learning, they were allowing employees to manage their own learning and make a ‘break’ in their usual schedules.

Participants spoke about a need to move from ‘pushing’ content to ‘pulling’ content, in order to cater for flexibility in working environments and extra workloads for some in the business. Furthermore, a call for other ways to create learning content was discussed, since several members brought up the topic of lack of access to virtual tools such as Zoom, video or in some cases, audio. An agile approach to distant working was also described by several members in the form of working in smaller iterations using tools such as a Trello board for teams to facilitate this.

We hope to invite you all to more sessions in the future, but in the meantime, please feel free to continue to stay in touch in these times.