Previous Article Next Article Officefacilities management company Regus has changed the way its employees learn – allaround the world. Simon Kent reports on its initiativeImplementinga new method of training delivery throughout an organisation is not a simpleexercise. Creating the required training materials and ensuring all employeesunderstand and have access to them can take time. However,the office facilities management company Regus has introduced a new approach totraining that has had clear positive results in only six months. Through theestablishment of the Regus On-line Learning Institute (Roli) all employees nowhave access to learning materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Inparallel with the company’s aim to “change the way we work” the trainingdepartment has effectively changed the way its organisation learns. Accordingto training director Ian McCourt, the speed at which Roli has been created isno surprise to those within the company. Regus is a young and expandingorganisation, expecting its workforce to double in the next 12 months. It’s arapidly developing business and employees take the view that Regus’s businessyears move twice as fast as anywhere else.Thecompany has a strong entrepreneurial ethic, allowing employees to effectivelywork as if they were managing their own business, taking the initiative andsharing best practice wherever possible. Atthe same time it provides the learning support and career opportunitiesemployees require to develop within the company.Relevance“We’revery focused as an organisation,” says McCourt, “but we tend to lose interestunless information is delivered in bite-sized manageable chucks. All trainingmust be transferable to the real world – if we can’t see the relevance then ourretention rate immediately drops.” McCourtwanted to introduce a new approach to training that would key into the company’sculture. He wanted staff to have access to concise and effective trainingmaterials wherever and whenever they needed that training. Hisvision was to deliver high-quality video and interactive training materialsacross Regus’s growing IT network enabling employees to receive high-qualityrelevant training at their own PC.CreatingRoli has been a team effort with close collaboration between all departments ofthe company. McCourt’s training department was concerned with designing theresource to fit in with the company’s overall training structure, supportingemployees from basic induction skills through to management and professionalqualifications. However,McCourt was emphatic that the training department should not be responsible fortraining content. “We took the approach that if you were a salesman then whowould you really like to learn from? Not some professional trainer, but from areal expert – the person who is at the top of the organisation in that field.”Eachsection of the company – from finance through to purchase and logistics – hastherefore been active in the design of the materials available for theiremployees. Departmentalheads have been appointed as “deans” of their specific “faculty” – usinglanguage that reinforces the gravity and seriousness with which the companyviews its training activities. RachelKing helped to create the content for the sales and marketing department.Indeed, when employees log on to the sales faculty, it is her role to welcomethem through a streamed video clip, and her voice that guides them through someof the exercises. “Weneeded to introduce a new data management system to our teams globally – that’ssome 2,500 employees,” she explains. “Atfirst we were going to do it through training the trainer, allowing skills tobe cascaded through the organisation in each region. Using e-learning has meantwe can take a coordinated approach, providing everyone with the same standardof training and support.”PositivefeedbackThisinitiative has received positive feedback from sales teams throughout theorganisation. While there may have been some resistance or at least negativefeelings about the idea of classroom-based training, each sales team has beenable control how and when they have been trained. Byfollowing multimedia presentations with interactive multiple choice and opentext question and answer exercises, the department has ensured a 100 per centsuccess rate among employees since they cannot proceed past the exercise untilthey have correctly answered the test and demonstrated working knowledge.Trainees still have access to human support if they need it through emailedqueries or simply by phoning one of the three specialists in charge of thetraining initiative. Atthe same time, information generated by the system can be collected and used toprovide feedback on the effectiveness of the training – showing whether thereis a need for additional information or courses on a subject or regional basis.Thispattern of interactivity and course design is replicated within each Facultyand department of the company, and within each course module.Thethird party involved in the creation of Roli is of course, Regus’s IT section.Having viewed other online learning resources, Darren Sharp, head of IT,believed they could create and deliver higher quality training products –courses that would use video and interactive exercises set on aneasy-to-navigate site.ContextAtthe end of the day, however, it is the training context – the structure aroundRoli – that is key to realising the full value of the resource. Employeesreceive appraisals, feedback and sign off from their line managers whichensures every learning activity is integrated into their work, and new skillsare used actively in working life.However,perhaps the most radical and surprising aspect in the establishment of Roli isthat at no time has McCourt or any other manager directed employees as to howmuch time they should spend on the system receiving training. Organisationsthat have introduced e-learning have often struggled with the problem of how tomake sure employees devote sufficient quality time to training activities, whenthey can concentrate without being interrupted or distracted. McCourthas, in effect, solved the problem by not addressing it, preferring to rely oncreating the right level of demand. “Inthe end, I decided that if we created something which people wanted to use,they would manage their own time in order to use it,” he says. “Ithought long and hard about whether to stipulate training time, but at the endof the day, time management is an important part of everyone’s job.” Access all hoursOn 1 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.