Why a change of scenery is beneficial to L&D

by John Hilton10 Feb 2016
Encouraging your learners to venture outside the office for training is a great way to stimulate their brains, according to Martin Cowie, National People & Development Director at OMD Australia.

For instance, last year the marketing and communications agency implemented a program for their middle management team where three of the five sessions took place outside the company.

It involved OMD Australia sending the participants to a law court, a lawyer’s office and the NSW Parliament.

The idea behind the law court was that it was a good forum to learn about negotiating and arguing a case.

Whereas the lawyer’s office was a very formal environment compared to what the OMD Australia employees are typically used to.

“It was all about experiencing different cultures and learning how certain clients are going to be thinking and behaving differently,” Cowie told L&D Professional.

“We need to understand that and continually adapt our style.”

Moreover, the NSW Parliament part was focused on discussing politics which is something that’s common in many workplaces.

“In every industry there are politics going on, and you have to deal with that and make sure it’s for the greater good,” said Cowie.

In particular, the benefits of learning in a new environment are that it really stimulates the mind and gets the staff out of the office - which is always a good thing, he added.

“So it’s just a matter of mixing it up as much as possible,” Cowie said.

“We encourage all managers to be spending time with their people and giving them direction."

Cowie added that OMD Australia also offer a limited number of e-learning modules.

“I'm not a huge advocate of e-learning, but there are certain ones which can help the more junior people, in particular, learn quite quickly,” Cowie said.

For instance, there are a few on time management, client handling and those kinds of things which can be helpful, he added.

“However, it can often be a challenge to find top-quality, entertaining, and engaging e-learning,” Cowie said.

Even though Cowie acknowledged that e-learning often has interactive parts to it (such as quizzes), for OMD Australia it’s paramount to make that investment in face-to-face learning.

This is because it is more effective, interesting and engaging, and more likely to stick in their minds, added Cowie.


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