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facilities management company Regus has changed the way its employees learn – all
around the world. Simon Kent reports on its initiative

a new method of training delivery throughout an organisation is not a simple
exercise. Creating the required training materials and ensuring all employees
understand and have access to them can take time.

the office facilities management company Regus has introduced a new approach to
training that has had clear positive results in only six months. Through the
establishment of the Regus On-line Learning Institute (Roli) all employees now
have access to learning materials 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

parallel with the company’s aim to “change the way we work” the training
department has effectively changed the way its organisation learns.

to training director Ian McCourt, the speed at which Roli has been created is
no surprise to those within the company. Regus is a young and expanding
organisation, expecting its workforce to double in the next 12 months. It’s a
rapidly developing business and employees take the view that Regus’s business
years move twice as fast as anywhere else.

company has a strong entrepreneurial ethic, allowing employees to effectively
work as if they were managing their own business, taking the initiative and
sharing best practice wherever possible.

the same time it provides the learning support and career opportunities
employees require to develop within the company.


very focused as an organisation,” says McCourt, “but we tend to lose interest
unless information is delivered in bite-sized manageable chucks. All training
must be transferable to the real world – if we can’t see the relevance then our
retention rate immediately drops.”

wanted to introduce a new approach to training that would key into the company’s
culture. He wanted staff to have access to concise and effective training
materials wherever and whenever they needed that training.

vision was to deliver high-quality video and interactive training materials
across Regus’s growing IT network enabling employees to receive high-quality
relevant training at their own PC.

Roli has been a team effort with close collaboration between all departments of
the company. McCourt’s training department was concerned with designing the
resource to fit in with the company’s overall training structure, supporting
employees from basic induction skills through to management and professional

McCourt was emphatic that the training department should not be responsible for
training content. “We took the approach that if you were a salesman then who
would you really like to learn from? Not some professional trainer, but from a
real expert – the person who is at the top of the organisation in that field.”

section of the company – from finance through to purchase and logistics – has
therefore been active in the design of the materials available for their

heads have been appointed as “deans” of their specific “faculty” – using
language that reinforces the gravity and seriousness with which the company
views its training activities.

King 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 welcome
them through a streamed video clip, and her voice that guides them through some
of the exercises.

needed to introduce a new data management system to our teams globally – that’s
some 2,500 employees,” she explains.

first we were going to do it through training the trainer, allowing skills to
be cascaded through the organisation in each region. Using e-learning has meant
we can take a coordinated approach, providing everyone with the same standard
of training and support.”


initiative has received positive feedback from sales teams throughout the
organisation. While there may have been some resistance or at least negative
feelings about the idea of classroom-based training, each sales team has been
able control how and when they have been trained.

following multimedia presentations with interactive multiple choice and open
text question and answer exercises, the department has ensured a 100 per cent
success rate among employees since they cannot proceed past the exercise until
they have correctly answered the test and demonstrated working knowledge.
Trainees still have access to human support if they need it through emailed
queries or simply by phoning one of the three specialists in charge of the
training initiative.

the same time, information generated by the system can be collected and used to
provide feedback on the effectiveness of the training – showing whether there
is a need for additional information or courses on a subject or regional basis.

pattern of interactivity and course design is replicated within each Faculty
and department of the company, and within each course module.

third 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 an
easy-to-navigate site.


the end of the day, however, it is the training context – the structure around
Roli – that is key to realising the full value of the resource. Employees
receive appraisals, feedback and sign off from their line managers which
ensures every learning activity is integrated into their work, and new skills
are used actively in working life.

perhaps the most radical and surprising aspect in the establishment of Roli is
that at no time has McCourt or any other manager directed employees as to how
much time they should spend on the system receiving training.

that have introduced e-learning have often struggled with the problem of how to
make sure employees devote sufficient quality time to training activities, when
they can concentrate without being interrupted or distracted.

has, in effect, solved the problem by not addressing it, preferring to rely on
creating the right level of demand.

the 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.

thought long and hard about whether to stipulate training time, but at the end
of the day, time management is an important part of everyone’s job.”

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