While COVID-19 has meant challenges for all companies, the advent of the ‘digital age’ has represented a fillip to those able to adapt their offering – and for one Welsh training company able to react to changed circumstances quickly, it has meant retaining its largest contract with one of the UK’s biggest retailers.
Call of the Wild, a training company whose offering is rooted in its incredible surroundings and landscapes of the Brecon Beacons, where it is based, was quick to pivot its offering when lockdown measures started being introduced in March 2020. Nine months on, it is embarking on its biggest ever online contract – a virtual management development programme for 600 managers at a large UK retailer. By moving from face to face delivery to a redesigned online programme it has meant renewal of the contract for 2021.
The company is also benefitting from a growing willingness in big companies to invest in their staff, keeping them engaged and motivated through a period when many are still working from home and juggling the challenges and demands presented as a result of COVID-19.
Some experts suggest that the e-learning industry globally would be worth $325 billion by 2025. This figure may well quadruple as a result of the enforced acceleration driven by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. In the UK, many professional bodies including the CIPD are urging companies to invest in training their staff to enhance both mental wellbeing and boost economic recovery.
Call of the Wild’s approach to adapting to an online environment has been especially innovative as the business has developed new and unique ways of delivering its leadership courses to ensure they continue to be an immersive and challenging experience – even when completed virtually.
The company has succeeded in continuing to leverage the incredible landscape and geographical features around its headquarters in the Brecon Beacons by bringing the ruggedness of its outdoor ‘green classroom’ programmes to the screen – filming various scenarios and allowing participants to choose different outcomes.
One of its training programmes, themed ‘Behind Enemy Lines’, a course designed to develop leadership skills, improve team performance and motivation, uses footage of real geographical features and the physical challenges they present including rivers, rapids, caves and cliffs to offer participants scenario-based exercises that replicate the experience of being in the Brecon Beacons.
Through this virtual world, participants will need to display leadership skills, work as a team to journey across the wild Brecon Beacons while completing tasks and challenges to obtain clues. In one scenario, coordinates will lead the team to a downed plane in the area, where they must find the pilot and extract him from the mountains as quickly as possible.
Mark Soanes, director, Call of the Wild, said: “The reality is that we are a Welsh company based in a pretty remote location who have used the outdoor ‘green classroom’ as a powerful vehicle for learning to take place. That has always been our USP and we have based our identity and programmes historically around our location and everything that offers.
“But just as we teach on our leadership programmes, we have turned the challenges of this year into an opportunity. We have embraced the digital world, put our own unique spin on things, and that has allowed us to continue to offer our programmes to clients albeit in a different way but without diminishing their impact.
“Landing this contract, which starts in January, is significant for us and we look forward to working with many more clients of this size. We are also speaking to customers in the US and parts of Europe. We genuinely believe that what has happened in 2020 will serve us in good stead long term now.”
Call of the Wild works very closely with its clients across the UK, many of them blue chip, to create tailor-made learning and team-building sessions, identifying the specific needs and aims of each client company. Its bespoke courses focus on achieving desired outcomes by creating positive behavioural change within the workplace. The programmes all have measurable outcomes and are aimed specifically at delivering a return on the client’s investment.