How to create the perfect workspace for engaging training
We all love to learn, whether we know and admit it or not. But not all professional training is a pleasant experience! The more enjoyable and engaging something is, the more we get out of it and workplace training is no exception. The content is obviously the starting point when designing for maximum engagement, but it is important to consider all the elements that go into creating a professional training experience.
How many times have you found yourself distracted by your surroundings, or not able to concentrate properly because no one has taken the time to think about the setup of your workspace and how it relates to what you are expected to do? Training sessions are no different, and we need to create great workspaces for optimum outcomes. The workspace we use is a vital part of the puzzle and its importance should not be underestimated.
But what do we need to consider? What makes the perfect workspace for engaging training and why? We’ll look at what companies, trainers, and employees themselves can do to improve their training workspaces, and increase engagement rates for professional training sessions.
Why is engaging training so important?
Engaging training is a must for any company hoping to attract and retain the best talent. Workplace training is sought and valued by employees as well as employers. Companies can upskill the talent they already have working for them, and this serves several valuable purposes. Not only will they reduce the costs in time, money, and lowered productivity involved in hiring new people, their employees will also see continuous professional development as an important element to successful career progression.
For continuous professional development to serve its purpose from both the employer’s and the employee’s perspectives, it needs to be engaging. There is obviously a lot of attention paid to how to increase engagement levels via the training content itself. You’ll find plenty of helpful information on how to increase engagement in both your online and in-person training courses from the point of view of content and delivery, but this is not the full story when we think about engaging training scenarios.
The right workspace can also contribute to increased engagement levels, so it is vital to ensure this is also addressed. After all, you can be listening to the most interesting speaker you have ever come across, but if your surroundings are not conducive to learning, it will be difficult for you to concentrate, learn, and retain the information you are being given.
How has the training workspace changed over time?
If we think about the way workplace training was delivered years ago, things were very different. With little in the way of technology – some readers might remember televisions and video players being wheeled into classrooms to spice things up and give the overhead projector a break – there was little variety.
The teaching style was a formal teacher-student relationship where the teacher spoke and the student listened. You would probably find yourself sitting at a small desk and taking handwritten notes. You might be expected to take an exam, or you would receive a certificate to say you had completed the course. For professional training, it was most likely to be held in a training room at the office, or - maybe – in a conference room at a hotel.
Fast forward a few years and what people expected and what venues could provide had dramatically improved. From better training approaches to improved technology, people were beginning to see more benefits from professional training courses.
What difference did the Covid-19 pandemic make to the training environment?
Online training wasn’t invented during the pandemic, but it certainly upped its game. As remote technology improved at an unprecedented rate, so did what people expected from their training. And as things have returned to a new normal, we now have the technology to help facilitate highly engaging and effective training courses, whether they are on or offline. For this purpose, digital and collaborative tools can help both in person and remote training.
What do trainees expect from their training workspace?
It’s hard to concentrate if you are not comfortable. These days companies are much more mindful of providing ergonomic desks and chairs and this is the case for remote workers too. A venue with access to natural lighting and fresh air, as well as good electric lighting, and that is not too hot or cold is important.
The opportunity to use spaces that can serve as breakout areas, whether real or virtual, can help with collaboration and communication. And a clean, tidy, and uncluttered space will work wonders too.
Physical movement is also important and much easier to build in to in-person training. Make sure regular breaks are scheduled into remote training sessions to allow this.
Easy access to rest rooms, food, and drinks is a given.
2. Appropriate technology
Trainees will expect the use of sophisticated technology and varied media in their training sessions, so the workspace will need to reflect this. However, technology needs to be easy to use and to add something to the experience. Anything that needs too much explaining or that is unnecessarily complicated for the task at hand will lead to lowered engagement. And if the session is remote any technology used by the group also needs to be compatible with online delivery.
Mixing in audio and video elements, and using collaborative tools like a digital whiteboard will make the workspace more conducive to learning.
A flexible workspace offers far more possibilities for training sessions. Trainees expect to find an accessible space that is easy and ready to use. This is easier to provide with remote training, for obvious reasons.
For in-person training, trainees will expect workspaces that are adaptable and set up for different types of technology and interactions. They should include private spaces as well as open-plan areas, to give opportunities for collaboration and teamwork as well.
What are the characteristics of great learning environments?
As we have seen, trainees expect certain things from their workspace training environments, and these are all part of what makes a great learning environment too. However, if we look at it from the trainer’s point of view as well, we should also consider:
A training environment that can lend itself to different training needs and styles will be more effective than one that cannot. This is the case for both in-person and remote training. Having spaces where trainees can be assembled in a large group to learn together, or in smaller ones where they can team up and get to know each other better will offer greater engagement opportunities.
Sharing knowledge and ideas helps build a sense of trust and understanding. However, if any sensitive information is being used, or there will be information that should not be overheard by other trainees for the sake of a team exercise, for example, it is vital to have a space that is secure.
2. Up-to-date technology
The latest technology and tools, such as interactive whiteboards, can help create dynamic training sessions that will keep engagement levels high. Making the most of technology is a given for remote learning sessions, but it is also an important aspect for in-person training.
Ensuring the technology available at a venue is compatible with yours is a priority. Technology is great when it works, not so good when it doesn’t! While coaches and training facilitators have less control over issues that may occur with remote training sessions, it is still important to ensure the technology you are using is relevant and appropriate for the experience, expectations, and needs of your audience.
3. Support and comfort
A great learning environment offers support and guidance, both on a personal level and in respect to having access to all the relevant resources and training materials. Creating a safe and secure environment is a must. This holds true for physical and virtual spaces. Trainees who feel safe, supported, and heard will be more engaged than those who feel they are just a name on a list.
Make sure that trainees have easy access to all the resources and learning materials they will need. For an in-person training session this might include props, books, digital tools and any other materials that will allow students to learn more actively. For remote training sessions, it may be necessary for supplementary material to be sent in advance so that trainees will have what they need to hand. They may need to simply print a workbook out for themselves, or it could involve sending something out by post or courier.
Support also comes in the form of making sure that everyone can access the training workspace, even asynchronously. Appropriate, fit-for-purpose equipment must be available for online training, and both physical and digital workspaces need to be compliant, safe, and secure. Physical workspaces also need to be hazard-free and accessible to less able-bodied people.
Attending a training session can be a daunting prospect for some people. They may find it hard to integrate into a group, or suffer from anxiety about public speaking: factors such as these can reduce engagement. Introduce elements into your training that help break the ice and get everyone interacting and feeling more relaxed from the outset.
How do digital tools help create an engaging training workspace?
Dynamic, interactive, and easily accessible training sessions can be improved by the right environment. We can make a training workspace, online or physical, better suited to the task and thereby increase engagement. We live in a digital world and this needs to be reflected in training workspaces too. Online tools offer many opportunities that coaches and training facilitators can incorporate into their programs to increase engagement.
Unlike many non-digital training aids, digital tools tend to be flexible, accessible, and shareable. The good ones are also easy and ready to use, and can be effectively utilised in groups of varying size.
Maintaining high levels of engagement is a top priority for all coaches and trainers. Everyone is invested in positive learning outcomes: the company, the facilitator, and the trainees. And to get the most out of professional workshops and other training sessions, you want maximum engagement. Getting the workspace environment right is the first step to ensuring you will have a class full of engaged people, all ready to learn. And while we can’t control everything, we can control which digital training aids we use.
When we understand the specific needs of trainees and the type of training being conducted, we can influence the design of the physical or virtual workspace accordingly, and technology can play a major role. Interactive whiteboards, digital displays, brainstorming boards, online games and quizzes can all be used to enhance the learning experience.
As hybrid working becomes more prevalent there may be occasions when training is carried out in person and remotely at the same time. Make sure you have the tools that are equipped to work just as well in both environments at the same time, and that all trainees receive a similar experience. Training workspaces need to create engaging, interactive, and effective learning environments that support the diverse needs of learners.
Workspaces that offer the greatest benefits for training sessions are those that have been designed for maximum engagement. If you are providing training to professionals, make sure you are using the best digital resources.
Here at Klaxoon we have all the tools and resources you could need to help you create engaging courses. Why not check out our resources page for more ideas?