The way we work in 2024
We have more options open to us than ever. The words ‘hybrid’ or ‘remote’ are becoming the norm on the top of job posts. And here in the UK, the new Flexible Working Bill means that, from spring this year, employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job. Not only that, with retirement ages getting pushed further and further back, in 2024 we have 5 generations of expertise, culture, preferences, and stages of life to navigate, manage, and maintain productivity with in the workplace. All the while, since the public release of ChatGPT in December 2022, the world has been in a spin about the capabilities and possibilities of Generative AI, with a report from Goldman Sachs predicting that it could replace the equivalent of 300 million jobs. While others are looking to the horizon to see what quantum computing has in store for us, it’s safe to say that, as Martha Lane Fox eloquently put it at last year’s Marketing Society Changemakers Illuminate Conference, “today is the slowest day of the rest of your lives.”
While there are a lot of positives to pull from the above, according to this Bruce Daisley report, 60% of us feel emotionally detached from work and only 11% of Brits feel actively engaged with their jobs. Plus, 2 out of 3 CEOs think that staff will return to a 5 day office week by 2028, even though 90% of workers don’t want to go back to the ‘old ways’ of working.
So how, as training providers, do we adapt our methods to enable teams to learn and grow in 2024?
"Today is the slowest day of the rest of your lives."
Martha Lane Fox, Changemakers Illuminate Conference, Nov 2023
The Quadmark 2024 learning trends watchlist
Prepare for the unexpected with a continuous learning culture
As Sam Coniff, Uncertainty Expert and author of Be More Pirate, puts it, “as a society, it’s not change we fear, it’s uncertainty.” If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to expect the unexpected. With the prospect of AI taking over our jobs in the near future continuing to grow, it’s no surprise that the stats show we’re becoming less and less engaged with work. This disengagement, Gallup has estimated, costs the global workforce a whopping $8.8 trillion in lost productivity annually.
So at the top spot for our 2024 learning trends watchlist is promoting a culture of continuous learning — empowering your people with microadventure learning, helping them grow in confidence, resilience and adaptability, embracing uncertainty, and making intelligent failures. In the process, you’ll unlock energy, creativity, and opportunity, rather than succumbing to fear of redundancy.
Prepare for the unexpected with experiential learning
No, it’s not a typo, ‘prepare for the unexpected’ is so important in 2024 it’s taken over the top 2 spots on our list, but with a different approach this time. Role play has always been a key tool in the Instructional Designers’ kit; allowing learners to put into action what they’ve learnt and grow in confidence in a safe environment. Throughout 2023, we’ve seen a rise in experiential learning workshops (for example the one we designed for Cohesity) that take the concept of role play one step further. Think murder mystery party, but with a business outcome attached to the final scene.
As Financial Times Senior Columnist Tim Harford writes in his article on the art of forecasting, “for a forecast to be useful, it is neither necessary nor sufficient that it be accurate… they open our eyes to different plausible futures, motivate us to anticipate threats and opportunities…” The closest we can get to predicting the future is to act out different scenarios, decide what actions to take and why, and prepare accordingly.
Reflect and respect your audience with learner mapping
Representation in the media has been a key focus for a number of years now, and the same can be said for training programs. The misrepresentation of your audience, the harmful use of stereotypes, tokenism or typecasting when creating training materials, as well as considering what each learner needs to be able to access the program, must be addressed as early as possible and revisited throughout the creation process. Without this due diligence, you risk publishing a program that fails to meet its objectives at best. At worst, you damage your brand reputation and cause your workforce to become disengaged.
To create an effective learning program that will resonate and make a difference, you first need to start with who your audience is. We like to call this audience mapping. It goes deeper than a one-page audience persona. It starts with a conversation, and ideally observing the audience in their work environment. Find out who they are, what motivates them, what challenges they face and how they like to work. Do they have any physical or sensory disabilities? Are they neurodiverse in any way? What is the makeup of their culture, tradition, and language? All these questions need to be answered to make a training program authentic, inclusive, respectful and effective.
Build team trust and productivity, starting with manager training
While flexible working has opened up opportunities for many of us, the biggest show stopper to its adoption boils down to one fundamental question as a manager — “do I trust my team?” Flexible working hours together with hybrid or remote working options create happier employees and a more diverse workforce. But, it has enabled something called ‘productivity paranoia’ to grow. Recent research by Slack suggests that we still really don’t know how to measure productivity, so instead of measuring outcomes and value, managers tend to guess productivity levels based on visibility, message response time and hours spent online. This means that only 12% of bosses have full confidence in their team working remotely, and as a result, 42% of people quit because of negative associations with their boss and team culture.
This isn’t surprising given that 82% of new managers in the UK have no formal leadership or management training when they take on the role. So, if we’re serious about embracing flexible working, finding a cohesion across the 5 generations currently at work, and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to AI, then it all starts with our managers. We need to make sure our managers are fully trained and equipped to build trust and manage their team, no matter where or when they work, and measure productivity metrics that count.
Experiment with AI to create training programs, faster
We probably should have put this at the top of the list… but then again you would have expected that (see trends number 1 & 2).
According to 2023 data from Forbes, adoption of AI in business continues to grow, with 68% of large companies, 33% of medium-sized companies and 15% of small companies have recently incorporated at least one AI technology in the UK. The world of Learning and Development is no exception. AI is set to revolutionise the way we create and experience training. Rather than starting from a blank slate, Instructional Designers can now prompt ChatGPT using frameworks such as RACEF (providing the AI with a role, action, context, example and format) to help them ideate the best structure for a new workshop or eLearning module. Then, when it comes to putting learning into practice, companies like Virti can create virtual humans to replicate real-world conversations, taking role play across several sectors to the next level. There’s HeyGen, who can help to localise and scale training with the use of AI powered videos that can quickly speak in a number of different languages with minimal input. Or Mindset AI, an AI learning assistant that can plug-in to an existing LMS to instantly find and share content users are looking for.
And while there are still major quality caveats involved in the use of these AI tools, the rate at which these technologies are evolving, and the opportunities they unlock, are undoubtedly something to watch and to keep experimenting with.
So bring it on, 2024. We’re ready for you.
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