Collaboration, innovation and constant learning are paramount in today’s workplace. An effective learning environment creates a culture of continuous growth for employees. Looking into the future, it will be much more knowledge-based rather than task-based.
In such a scenario, the traditional working methods won’t cut it anymore, and that’s why many professionals are going back to school. For instance, some are looking to expand certifications. Others are pursuing a master’s in education distance learning programme. So, if you’re a manager or looking to upskill, this guide will give you what you need to know about creating effective learning environments.
Why a learning environment is important
A learning environment is where people can come together and learn from each other. Learning organizations, including in business, continuously improve their performance. Furthermore, they rely on creating new knowledge and sharing it across the organization. As a result, it leads to increased collaboration, employee engagement and performance.
It can happen in a formal classroom or an informal coffee break setting. The idea is to create a space where people can feel that they’re part of a larger team. So, the best way to create a learning environment is to ensure that you have a suitable space for the task. For example, some tasks require formal settings with a more structured approach. Conversely, others are better suited for informal settings with a more relaxed atmosphere.
Start with the end in mind
When building an effective learning environment – a conference room, breakout room or an open plan area – you need to start with the end in mind. So, the first thing to do for a high-performing team is to decide on the desired outcome of your learning environment. For instance, you should determine whether your learning environment should be conducive to collaboration. Perhaps you want to provide a space for creativity or even a place that promotes introspection. For example, suppose that you want to create a breakout room that encourages creativity and collaboration. In that case, you should make an open space where team members can bounce ideas off each other.
Decide on the goals of your learning environment
Once you decide on the desired outcome for your learning environment, it’s time to determine the goals. Goals are what you want to attain through your learning environment. For instance, if collaboration is one of your goals, you could have clusters of desks and chairs, plus whiteboards. If ideation is a goal, you could have fewer whiteboards and more collaborative spaces.
You can also incorporate other learning elements, such as games, into your learning environment. While some games, such as darts and pool, are better off in a game room, others, such as table tennis, can be played in a learning environment. Games bring learning to life and create team building for employees.
Create a culture of curiosity and collaboration
Your learning environment can create a culture of curiosity and collaboration if you incorporate a few elements. For example, you can welcome guests with a table or board that makes them feel welcome and curious. You can also use wall décor to create a monthly theme. Topics can range from books to movies to current events. You can also use smart bulletin boards to create a space where employees can share their expertise and knowledge. As a leader, encourage teams to think outside the box when coming up with ideas and solutions to problems.
Plan for flexibility and mobility
When planning for your learning environment, you should keep flexibility in mind. For instance, you don’t want to have intricate décor to move around or modify. Instead, use modular furniture that allows you to rearrange the space as needed. You can also use decals that are easy to peel off and reposition. Also, you can use paint or wallpaper to create a more dynamic learning environment. If most of your learning happens during the workday, you may want to design your space to reflect that. However, if you have team members who prefer working during the evening or even at weekends, consider designing your area with that in mind.
Provide real-time feedback and coaching
One of the best ways to make your learning environment effective is to provide real-time feedback and coaching. For instance, you can do this using technology that allows you to record meetings. It enables you to provide instant feedback and coaching to team members. By installing a voice-activated smart board, you can also make your learning environment more interactive and engaging. Also, consider lighting and sound effects to create a more inviting atmosphere in your learning environment.
Create a game room
If collaboration is one of your goals, why not introduce a game room to your learning environment? A game room is a great way to promote collaboration, creativity and even social interaction. For example, use space to play pool, table tennis, darts, board games and tabletop games. If you’re working in a cubicle-style office, you can create a game room on a smaller scale, and for distributed teams, plenty of online gaming and team-building platforms exist.
Learning is a continuous process
In sum, when designing an effective learning environment, it’s essential to remember that learning is a continuous process. This means that you need to keep the space fresh and dynamic. You can rotate tables and chairs or rearrange the area regularly. Also, you can change the décor of the room from time to time. Of course, use technology to create a more dynamic learning environment and for distributed teams.
For instance, use projectors to display visuals, screens to create digital whiteboards, and incorporate social media into your learning environment. You can also use online games to create a more engaging learning environment. As long as the games are relevant to your work, they can be a fun way to bring the team together. In short, you can create a culture of creativity and continuous growth by designing an effective learning environment. Doing so allows employees to feel inspired and engaged. And when they do, they’ll go above and beyond and can truly transform your organization.