Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

A transformation of the learning function: Why it should learn new ways

Anne says: This article was written in September 2020 – 12 months ago. In terms of business challenges and responses, September 2020 feels like a decade has gone by. In fact, articles like this have been written for the past 2 decades – including by me!

McKinsey’s authors present a strong argument for assessing and changing learning and development (L&D) departments. Great examples and responses to the enormous challenges faced by L&D outline how they scrambled to provide relevant learning experiences during the enforced work from home contexts as a result of the pandemic. Likewise, a candid evaluation of why L&D might have stagnated into specific patterns of delivery, design and response to business requests.

But if you filter out pandemic conditions and recent technology developments, the core, underpinning principles should have already been in place. It’s both disheartening that it takes a pandemic to change the ways we work and learn, and at the same time encouraging that impactful change in L&D can be realised in such a short period of time.

The most useful aspect of the article is the exhibit in the middle – the balance between dynamism and stability. It’s a constructive framework to review your own L&D department’s function and approach, with guidelines to inform implementation.

“L&D functions have unparalleled access to data and research that reveal how workers grow and improve, and they have long experience helping workers to do exactly that. If they can combine that knowledge and experience with an ability to understand and stay ahead of the changing needs of their organizations, they can deliver learning programs accordingly.”

At last, is this the epiphany moment we’ve been waiting for?

Read: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-accelerate/our-insights/a-transformation-of-the-learning-function-why-it-should-learn-new-ways

Virtual Mark Zuckerberg showed me Facebook’s new VR workplace

Jakkii says: Whenever I hear of things like a Virtual Reality workplace, I’m always curious about whether it’s genuinely useful or if it’s just a novelty that doesn’t really add any value. But when a player as big as Facebook, and one that’s as invested in VR as Facebook through Oculus gets involved, it’s hard not to sit up and pay attention.

Facebook wants its VR headsets to be about more than just games, to be instead a space where we’re going to meet in virtual offices. Zuckerberg and his team see this as the future of remote work, not five or 10 years from now but now.

“What we’re trying to move towards is a world where a lot of what we do is in here [in VR], and the people who can’t be in here can be on video. So people can feel present that way if people aren’t together in person physically.”

It’s a fascinating concept, really, the idea that immersing yourself in a world of cartoon-ish avatars allows for more sense of presence than through video – but it’s also not that far-fetched. Facebook isn’t alone here, either – as the author mentions in the article, Microsoft is also exploring VR through Hololens and how products like Teams might change and evolve with VR.

Zuckerberg apparently discussed during this VR meeting how VR has (or can have) a different impact on memory than simply meeting via video, however, neither he nor the author pulled in any experts or references here to back up this claim. A study back in 2018 from the University of Maryland does suggest Zuckerberg is right – they found that “people remember information better if it is presented to them in a virtual environment.”

Interestingly though, at least one article I found when googling suggested the concept of presence in the virtual world could actually have a negative impact on memory in the physical world. Though this is obviously different to what Zuckerberg is talking about when he suggests we remember more from the VR meeting than the video one, it does at least suggest that there may be trade-offs. Still, while VR isn’t really a new technology, as it continues to advance we’ll be able to study it further and learn more about how it impacts us – both positively and negatively.

For now, with the reality of a VR workplace still in its infancy, we can only look to anecdotal reports of what the experience is like in order to start to understand how it might work, how it might help (or not), and how it might feel. From this author’s experience, it’s the ability of the software to map parts of the physical world (his computer, keyboard and mouse) into the virtual space that really helped deliver on the concept of presence, of really being there, because he was interacting with them physically while viewing them in VR.

I think there are a ton more questions than answers about VR workplaces, from costs to practicality to necessity, not to mention outcomes and tangible benefits. But boy if it isn’t mighty intriguing! Definitely a space to watch, that’s for sure.

Read: https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/virtual-mark-zuckerberg-showed-me-facebooks-new-vr-workplace-solution/

At home

Jakkii says: ah, delta, it’s no fun, is it. Lots of us around the world are back in lockdown or otherwise under heavier restrictions than we had been. Whatever your situation, I hope you’re staying safe and staying sane! Here are just a few things you can do from home this week to help beat the inevitable boredom.

Friday Fives

Hybrid workplace and the future of work

Remote work and the digital workplace

Communication, collaboration, engagement, and culture

Community management, moderation and misinformation

Privacy and data

Big Tech, tech and regulation

Social media

Extras

This is interesting: Scientists traced a woolly mammoth’s lifetime journey, and it’s astonishing

Things that make you go hmmm: The animals changed by proximity to humans

Space: Former NASA astronaut answers space questions from Twitter

Podcast: Rethinking our relationship with work

Friday playlist: This playlist that’s a recipe for banana bread


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