Webinar Recap: Learning in a Remote World

April 16, 2020

Webinar Recap: Learning in a Remote World

As L&D teams around the world grapple with sudden changes to the way we work, hunger for connection and shared best practices has only grown. In the spirit of connecting and supporting L&D professionals in this dynamic time, we gathered leaders from LinkedIn—remotely, of course—to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the learning industry. 

On Thursday, April 9th, Amy Borsetti, resident industry expert and Director of Linkedin Learning Solutions hosted Kevin Delaney, Vice President of L&D, and Sara Delaney, Director of L&D, to discuss how learning and development at LinkedIn has adapted to this new world of work. The conversation shined a light on how learning can support companies, teams, and individuals at a time when everyone could use a little more help. Below are some of our top takeaways, but be sure to watch the full discussion here

A three-phased approach to staying agile amid change

L&D professionals at organizations everywhere are quickly pivoting a number of initiatives to adapt to the needs of their employees—and LinkedIn’s team is no exception.

To stay focused amidst all the change, Delaney began by structuring LinkedIn’s L&D efforts into a three-phased approach: 

  • Phase one: avoid going off the rails. 

  • Phase two: add immediate value. This allows the business to see L&D as a crucial go-to partner amid the chaos.

  • Phase three: align and refine. Make sure everyone is aligned on new roles and responsibilities, that people understand holistically what you’re trying to achieve, and that you’re constantly refining your processes over time.

This organized approach has allowed Kevin’s team to successfully experiment with new ways of working. “This has been a dramatic forcing function and has given us some new opportunities to experiment,” Delaney said. “We’ve gotten to change the entire business model, which has been pretty fun.” 

Pivoting online to meet the need

Like most learning teams, L&D at LinkedIn has had to quickly pivot all instructor-led training to virtual workshops. Delaney’s team had already begun adding live virtual training to their offerings about six months ago, but this environment has been a great accelerator. They’re using this time to roll out new online live courses on a daily basis. The team has launched over 25 virtual workshops in just the past five weeks. 

“We’re trying to set the table with a rich set of learning offerings. We’re doubling down with LinkedIn Learning, creating curation paths, and then obviously shifting to live virtual as well. People want something constructive to do with their time, and if you can give them learning as something to engage themselves with and occupy their minds, then it benefits themselves and it benefits the company,” Delaney said. 

In such a fast-paced environment, Delaney said that staying aligned and allowing for a bit of scrappiness have been absolutely crucial. His team has daily standups and a live rolling calendar that highlights everything the team is working on. The team also experimented with posting their training to the LinkedIn company group, rather than building out a full marketing program as they would for an in-person workshop. They’ve seen amazing results from this approach so far. It’s a lesson in just how needed learning is in times of change. 

Building a virtual onboarding experience—in three days

When LinkedIn asked its Bay Area workforce to start working from home, Dowling was in charge of moving the company’s onboarding program from in-person to online… in three days.

“We know how important onboarding is and that doesn’t change just because it’s virtual now,” Dowling said. Her team quickly got to work adapting what was a full day, in-person session to a completely virtual experience. They broke the existing training up into bite-sized chunks and spread the new program out over a week. No session was over 90 minutes and each new training included an interactive activity every 10 minutes to keep participants engaged. 

Knowing how important it was to keep LinkedIn’s culture front and center, the team intentionally infused touchpoints to virtually recreate moments of belonging and community. One of those touchpoints included creating a LinkedIn group for all new employees so they could stay connected and build community. The team also sent video reminders to hiring managers to make sure they set up virtual introductions between the new employee and their teammates. 

The team is continually gathering feedback and making changes to improve the program over time. You can read more about how LinkedIn overhauled their onboarding program here

The learning surge

Professionals watched over 4 million hours of LinkedIn Learning content in March alone as employees are learning how to be more productive at home and prioritizing a new type of self-care: skill development. In fact, in a recent survey of our members, nearly half of respondents say that in the next two weeks they will increase their online learning. By contrast, only a quarter expect to spend more time job-hunting. This type of self investment is unprecedented, and perhaps is a silver lining to all of this.  

The boost in learner engagement shows just how important L&D is in helping organizations manage through change. We’ve always known that successful companies prioritize investing in their people, but this experience has put a spotlight on the role learning & development plays in employee mental health, happiness, productivity, and business results. 

“There is clearly a massive appetite for learning right now. It really does show that now is the time to step in wherever your business is on the journey. Be there. Think about how you can help right now,” Dowling said. 

To watch the full discussion, check out the on demand webinar recording here