By Ajay Jacob

I remember visiting the head office of a bank once and was struck by something as soon as I walked into the lobby. To one side of their main reception area, in full view of everyone passing by, was a training room. The walls were clear glass so you could see right through. The layout was set up to look like one of their branches, and a trainer was observing and giving feedback to a small group of learners as they discussed and tried out different scenarios together.

It was fascinating to watch, and a great bit of employer branding as well. Granted, since they were replicating a branch, the random people walking in and out of the lobby probably added to the experience, rather than being a distraction.

Even so, by using that prime office space to have a training room (instead of some abstract art installation, giant flat-screen, or exotic plants) they were sending out a clear signal that this was an organization that cared about learning and development. It was literally front and center, not tucked away in a corner on the fourth floor. To enter the building was to enter a ‘learning zone’.

Not only that, the fact that the walls were clear glass was also significant. Too much of our learning during pre-Covid took place behind closed doors with a big “Training in Progress” sign outside, and now post-Covid, behind laptop screens. If we want to drive a learning culture, we need to start making learning more ‘visible’.

The goal for us as L&D professionals should be to remove the distinction between working and learning, thereby making learning more fully integrated into the work. Many companies have found ‘working out loud’ to be a great way to increase collaboration, productivity, and innovation. What if we similarly encouraged ‘learning out loud’, where people talk about what they’re learning, share their experiences, and connect with peers on a similar journey?

It’s worth bearing in mind that all the tech in the world won’t help you create a learning organisation, unless you get people excited about learning. You also need your leaders to incentivize (and role-model) the right kinds of behaviors; for example:

  • Normalize failure
  • Celebrate beginners
  • Value expertise

As organizations of all sizes continue to work out what #hybridwork looks like, it’s crucial that we in L&D try and figure out what it means for us.

Will our workplaces of the future be ‘learning zones’ where we are front and center? Or will we still be in a corner on the fourth floor?