The Covid-19 pandemic forever changed the workplace and the people who operate within it. Some companies are still fully remote, some are “hybrid” (part-time in the office and part-time from home), and some are back in the office full time. Beyond where and how the work occurs, the labor force itself has also changed dramatically over the last few years; some people permanently left the workforce, others made career changes, and still others sought jobs that either no longer exist or are now very different from what they once were.
To continue to make the most of these changes and help team members reach their full potential, organizations need to continue to invest in the professional development of their people, and some of this may come from revisiting their internal facilitation skills, processes, and techniques as well as the skills their internal facilitators need to be most successful. Workplaces have completely changed as a result of the pandemic, and facilitation practices that worked well pre-2020 might not be as useful now. Many teams have welcomed new members, and seasoned team members have switched regularly between in-person and remote settings, meetings, and training sessions. Facilitators must also continue to adapt to best serve their audience’s needs and preferred learning modalities. Here are three reasons leaders should consider reassessing their current facilitation skills and processes:
1. Changing Workforce
The pandemic has led to a constantly changing labor market. Beyond people permanently leaving the workforce, 25% more workers are switching their jobs and industries than expected. Consequently, workers are coming into new jobs and industries with experience that is transferable but might not be directly related to their current positions. Facilitators should consider the backgrounds of their audiences and adapt their materials and agendas accordingly.
In addition to creating an environment where it’s common for new team members to come from different jobs or industries, the pandemic has also changed the individual worker and people’s priorities. During the pandemic and often out of necessity, people spent more time with their families and less time commuting and chatting with their coworkers. Daily life fundamentally shifted, so it’s only natural to expect that team members changed too. Facilitators should acknowledge that even the team members who have been with the organization the longest are different than they were two and a half years ago.
2. Continued Virtual Sessions
At the beginning of the pandemic, organizations relied heavily on programs like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to try to stay connected with their team members. Two and a half years later, organizations are still using these programs but are facing new challenges. Opinions about remote training sessions have changed. Many participants now have their cameras off during these meetings, and their level of participation is low. The novelty of meeting with people via webcam has completely worn off. To combat these issues, facilitators should continue to find new ways to engage their audiences as they attempt to reduce Zoom fatigue and ambivalence.
3. New In-Person Sessions
At this point, many team members have not had in-person meetings or training sessions for months or years, so the transition back to tangibly participating in meetings of this type could be difficult. On Zoom or Teams, a person can turn off their camera, type in a chat box instead of speaking, and even multitask. In person, they are fully visible to everyone. The experiences are completely different, and facilitators should be mindful that participants are adapting to these different circumstances and may need some time to remember the expected etiquette in different settings.
Additionally, facilitators should not approach the session as if the pandemic never happened. Some participants may want to socially distance themselves from their team members and may be hesitant to participate in activities that entail physically touching their colleagues. Facilitators must consider all of these factors when creating their agendas so that participants can learn the necessary material and skills in an environment that is comfortable for everyone.
As the pandemic continues to wind down, organizations should revisit and adapt their facilitation skills and processes to fit the current moment and the needs of a very different workforce. If you are interested in learning more about the development opportunities available for your organization’s internal facilitators and team trainers, we encourage you to check out the Facilitation Skills for Trainers workshop from CMOE.
About the Author
Hannah joined the CMOE team in 2022 and brings both her unique expertise in writing and her prior teaching experiences to the Design Team and CMOE clients. She earned her Master of Arts in Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. Hannah works with the Design Team to provide innovative learning solutions that meet the needs of each organization.