Alongside challenges such as the inclusion of global workforces, budget cuts and social distancing, heads of L&D (Learning and Development) face another challenge that remains high on corporate agendas: sustainability. And as the worldwide demonstrations earlier this year showed us, environmental concerns are a big issue for the coming generation of employees. A company’s carbon footprint is under constant scrutiny, and L&D – like other divisions - has its role to play in reducing it as much as possible. In addition to the content (e.g. introduction of topical courses on green manufacturing), the training delivery methods also have a big role to play.
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The classical approach to training has been to provide face-to-face sessions where participants are brought together by plane, car or coach. The reason for doing this was simple: in-class training was perceived as more efficient and there were few credible alternatives that provide the same levels of engagement. Training via videoconferencing tools clearly reduces the ecological footprint but does not deliver the same results in terms of training outcomes, retention and the application of learnings. So ultimately, it does not deliver the results L&D pros are looking for.
Reducing the carbon footprint with distance learning
Barco University - the company’s learning & development division – implemented two virtual classrooms and one virtual hybrid classroom using weConnect. This is a proprietary software-based solution for more accessible, inclusive training that ensures the best learning experience. The company also decided to track the environmental performance to measure the ecological impact, which proved to be promising. Over the first 16 months of use, weConnect enabled:
- Number of learners: 1170 learners
- Number of course hours: 3700 hours
- Number of flying kilometers saved: 2 million = 50 trips around the globe
- Quantity of CO2 saved: 461 tons.
These figures are further reinforced by the increased productivity that distance learning enables through less travel (leading to further cost savings). This in turn improves the learners’ work/life balance. For L&D professionals, these are issues that all add up to a more productive, less energy-intensive solution.