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ATD Blog

Returning to the Workplace: A Short Sim

Monday, June 8, 2020

I had the chance to connect with Clark Aldrich, who recently created a topical Short Sim on how to return to work after the lockdown to share with the community. He’s discussed his expertise regarding Short Sims with ATD previously where you can learn more about these topics:

  • an introduction to Short Sims, including its business value, the role of interactivity, design steps, process predictability, and sample learning objectives
  • a historical evolution of simulations, which includes inspiration from computer games and discusses the challenges (for example, time, cost, and length) that led way to the creation of short sims in the corporate learning space
  • his recommendations for how to create powerful metrics to evaluate learner performance and engagement by using sims.

Check out his responses from our Q&A below:

Why did you create "Returning to the Workplace After the Lockdown"?

Right now a lot of companies are planning to bring some employees back to a modified office environment. Short Sims are great at giving people an opportunity to quickly experience and adjust to new situations. With this 10-minute simulation, employees can acclimate to social distancing, mask use, and physical changes before the stress of the real first day back.

How long did it take you to develop the sim? Was there a specific step that was most time-consuming?

It took me about 40 hours to create this Short Sim. "Returning to the Workplace After the Lockdown" needed more graphics than the usual Short Sim, as a lot of the content was environmental, so that required the most time.

How did you make the sim?


As is the case with all Short Sims, I first researched it by interviewing subject matter experts. Next, I built a visual of the new workplace (included) for discussion and iterated it based on feedback.

Then I created the overall scenario, which was "the first day back," and organized all of the decisions that needed to be made along that day. l did this in BranchTrack to make my life easier, finished the graphics, and presented it again to my colleagues for final feedback.

How can people access "Returning to the Workplace After the Lockdown"?

This Short Sim is free to use; anyone can play it at


Companies can email me for a SCORM or iFrame version or just grab it from my Microsoft OneDrive folder here. Still other companies have commissioned me to do some custom variations for their more specific conditions.

To learn more about the sim, go to

How can people learn how to make a short sim themselves?

Short Sims are a wonderful new approach to educational content. You can learn more at

My newest book, Short Sims: A Game Changer, is all about how to create Short Sims. Also, I am offering certification-level workshops in which participants actually build their own Short Sims.

Finally, please join me June 25, for the webcast, Powerful Metrics of Short Sims.

About the Author

Alexandria Clapp is the content manager for Learning Technologies and Sciences at ATD. She’s responsible for creating and curating content including articles, webinars, books, conferences, and more for talent development professionals. She also hosts the ATD Accidental Trainer podcast.

Prior to joining ATD, Alexandria worked at a research and development firm that applied cognitive science to improve learning outcomes. She trained partner organizations to deliver cognitive enhancement programs and specializes in leadership development, learning and memory, instructional design, and virtual coaching. Alexandria is a credentialed ATD Master Trainer and Expert Coach. 

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