Do you still remember those company training days that stretched from dinner into the wee hours? They disappeared almost completely as a result of the pandemic. Many companies have put their education budget on hold. It is a mistake, say Milla Saaristenperä, Director of Development at KONE, and Katri Kolesnik, Executive Director of the Business Technology Academy.

There is no returning to the face-to-face training days we were used to before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, something new has grown in their place. KONE, one of the world’s leading companies in the machinery and escalator industry, has witnessed a change from the front row.

­”We are now training even more than before, but we have had to come up with new ways of training. We have to work more to maintain the level of training and competence that we are used to,” says Milla Saaristenperä.

When the technician can’t go to the elevator shaft, the elevator shaft comes to them

Previously, KONE trained elevator installers face-to-face in a classroom – a place with an elevator. Now it’s rarely possible. Hundreds of internationally trained lift installers have had to come up with new training methods.

“We have built virtual realities to train elevator installers. It offers the possibility of physical learning and experimentation, which cannot be done with the video,” Saaristenperä says.

In addition to physical presence, switching to remote connections has changed people’s psychological prerequisites and ways of learning. The change has also been noticed at the Business Technology Academy, which trains companies and hundreds of people a year.

“People’s concentration has decreased even further. Changes of this kind require new training methods. We have launched so-called nano-trainings, where learners get a small learning unit to explore every afternoon,” says Katri Kolesnik.

Nano-training also collects feedback from learners. They utilise automation and robotics to support learners. For example, automation can remind you of a learning task that has not been completed or give individual tips. It makes the learning experience tailor-made.

Face-to-face time is the most fertile ground for learning

It is the lost shared lunches, coffee moments and dinners of training days that are the most difficult loss from a learning perspective as well. Informal togetherness and moving away from a familiar environment improve learning outcomes and increase the sense of belonging.

“You think differently in a different place. People are freed, talking and challenging each other. It helps build a sense of belonging and networks within the organisation. Information moves more easily when you can ask someone you know for help,” says Kolesnik.

KONE has adopted an internationally renowned Business Technology standard approach. As part of this, the KONE Academy training module was tailored for the company. It included training days at the Hahkiala Manor in Espoo, among other things.

“We were far from the office and there were people from abroad as well. It was great to be together in the Finnish countryside at the end of the summer, it really made me proud of my homeland and the experience stuck in my mind,” says Saaristenperä.

Quality education is the key to post-crisis success

Few companies deny the importance of skilled people as their most important asset. Without them, business change will not happen. Yet in many places, the development of skills is now being held back.

“Companies may be waiting for the pandemic to be over before committing to big training programs. The talk of online training is also a red flag for many, which may have led to only compulsory training being held,” Kolesnik says.

“Since the first shock, we have also seen the coronavirus period as an opportunity to develop our business and, of course, to invest more in educating people. Now, at the latest, it is important to think about how to strengthen employees and the company to operate in the new normal,” Saaristenperä encourages.

Both Saaristenperä and Kolesnik have the same advice for companies that are currently planning a pandemic exit strategy: invest in high-quality training.

“Now is the time to show that people’s skills are really being invested in – albeit by new means,” says Katri Kolesnik.

Is it time to boost the skills of your people and develop your organisation? Have a look at our upcoming trainings! 

Milla Saaristenperä is KONE’s Business Development Director, whose passion is to create new value for customers and develop a customer-centric offering.

Katri Kolesnik is the executive director of the Business Technology Forum. He has helped hundreds of organisations succeed in digital transformation through education, among other things.

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