Learning for the Hybrid Workplace: Interview with Manavi Pathak, Tata Trent

Pranjalee Lahri
Pranjalee Lahri May 13, 2021

Hybrid workplace. A mix of in-office and remote workers. A new-age business model. A new way of working and skilling.

As the workforce adopts to the new normal, so does HR and L&D. Today, Learning and Development professionals need to rethink the learning mandate for the hybrid workplace.

Manavi Pathak, the current Head Talent and Leadership & Organizational Development at Tata Trent Ltd. and a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience in the area of Talent Management, Assessment, Learning & Leadership Development and Executive Coaching, tells how in the latest episode of ‘Leadership Spotlight’ podcast, titled ‘Learning for the Hybrid Workplace’.

Key takeaways:

1. The hybrid workplace is here to stay

Hybrid working is not a new concept. Organizations across the world have been practicing it on need basis long before the pandemic. It’s the cynicism and lack of confidence with respect to employee performance and productivity that has prevented it from going mainstream and a job expedited by covid. This has singlehandedly flipped the ratio of remote to office working to 80:20 and even 90:10, in some cases.

The productivity experience has been positive for most businesses across the board, barring the teething troubles of transitioning from a physical to a digital modus operandi. But with a year and more into the pandemic, the only areas that still need active addressing today are culture and team working.

Overall, the hybrid workplace is not a passing whim.

2. L&D needs to rethink the learning mandate for its on-site and remote employees

The hybrid workplace has presented both opportunities and challenges for employees and employers alike. It’s a time to think differently, reimagine the power and purpose of learning, and create creative and forward-looking solutions.

L&D can rethink the learning mandate by:

  • Reorganizing organizational strategies, workforce policies and mapping skills that are required for the new normal
  • Understanding where we learn, how we learn and, where we learn
  • Overhauling the learning design by personalizing learning journeys and measuring learning effectiveness
  • Offering a combination of self-paced online with engaging experience to bring about efficiency and effectiveness in training programs
  • Thinking about learning after pandemic - how are we going to learn differently, how can we chunk content and make it interactive, how can we help learners get most of it without overwhelming them

3. The role of L&D professionals has changed

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." In applying this to the context of the topic, the verdict is clear - L&D professionals themselves need to evolve with the changing times.

Today, L&D professionals need to wear several hats - part futurist, part CIO and part design thinker to build skills that their employees need for the future.

Ways L&D can evolve:

  • By thinking beyond classroom
  • By being agile
  • By building digital dexterity
  • By honing into learning analytics
  • By rebranding themselves

4. Empathy becomes even more important in the tech world

Empathy has been the buzzword of the last year and for a good reason. We trade in-person communication with tech-enabled interactions, humanizing becomes the cornerstone of team and business success. Empathy is not just soft skill but is an essential skill. Being trainable and teachable, through VILT and digital learning, it makes it a non-negotiable for HR today.

5. L&D cannot be caught standing still

Organizations are facing an era of rapid acceleration wherein workers are at all levels are required to build capabilities much faster than before and navigate complex systems and processes. L&D, which was previously focused on transactional interactions across broad and complex portfolios, needs to now reorient itself and play a more proactive role enabling the workforce and develop skills and capabilities.

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