The legacy of lockdown on learning and development
As the mass remote working experiment of lockdown winds down or evolves over the coming months, the lessons we've learned during this time remain with us. Digital technology has enabled us to embrace self-directed learning at speed, and there’s no going back now.
When schools in the UK closed for all but keyworkers’ children due to the government’s efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, over 10 million children were impacted and all of a sudden were forced into homeschooling. Children had to adapt their learning, and many adults might note that similar approaches have been seen in enterprise training.
Digital technologies and tools for enhanced remote working have slowly been making their way into businesses over the last few years at different paces, but this online-only approach to schooling is new to the masses. Having this grassroots approach to digital learning, however, means the future legacy of workplace development could now look vastly different.
With more workforces adopting longer-term remote work policies, it’s right that employees will expect new ways of learning.
When at school, learning without a teacher or your classmates will have taken time to get used to. In younger age groups, having friends broken up from each other will have had a detrimental effect too. Over time, being at home empowers us to take control of our learning experiences.
Finding your own motivations and directives to learn new skills or hobbies is not something foreign to many of us. Just look at the nation’s flour shortage as we turned into a country of banana bread-loving bakers. This explosion in digital, self-directed learning could actually be a beneficial experience for young people. Today’s schoolchildren will enter a world of work where, thanks to increasing automation and rapidly evolving technology, continual self-directed learning will be a major part of career success.
A new generation of digital learners
This has the potential to foster a whole generation of go-getters, ones who have found a way to learn during these unprecedented times, and a way that is probably suited to their individual learning style. The fact that most school-age children are digital natives, growing up with smartphones and apps such as TikTok, will mean that they will enter the workforce with vastly different expectations of an organisation from salaries, vision and sustainability to learning opportunities. This has a greater impact in the long term but it will also rub off on our current workforce.
Many home workers have increased their self-directed learning time. Usage of corporate learning and development platforms has increased significantly during the lockdown.
Perhaps the gap will have narrowed in recent weeks in tandem with the mass experiment in homeschooling and the current workforce, who have also been doing more by way of self-directed learning. In fact, we’ve seen an uptick in users making the most of a learning management system (LMS) during lockdown.
Between February and May, we saw an additional 100,000 users on Docebo and the average time spent per day increased by two minutes. On average, users are spending just over 14 minutes on training and development. This indicates a number of things that reflect the changing approach to workplace development.
Gone are the days of all-day conferences and 50-page slide decks telling you how to use a piece of software, or how to be a better presenter. With more workforces adopting longer-term remote work policies, it’s right that employees will expect new ways of learning. The ability to access content on your mobile, via one central platform gives people added flexibility, which many of us have enjoyed generally over the last couple of months.
Moving forward with enterprise learning
If we do return to offices in the medium to long term, more of us may use our commuting time to do training, rather than scroll Twitter or check off emails on the train or bus. If this approach sticks, enterprise learning will be ingrained in everyday working life, like email or communications tools like Slack or Teams.
The makeup of an organisation's workforce is set to change and this will have a ripple effect on training. Some of the younger generations will have gone through the global financial crisis, experienced turbulence felt by Britain leaving the European Union and will now be in the midst of a global pandemic.
This generation is used to what is a bumpy cycle of change, to the point that they may become desensitised by change. Their ability to be agile and move with technology should be highly regarded. Their expectation of workplace development will be vastly different too. Having used technology all their lives, they’ll expect bitesize, online, mobile learning material and they’ll trust themselves to get on with it to further their careers.
This is a big bonus for leaders in learning and development. If you adopt the technology, embrace it throughout the company, then the technology will help you manage, communicate and learn from your own teams. If you’re able to put trust in your staff to get on with the work, then you’re built for future business success.
Many home workers have increased their self-directed learning time. Usage of corporate learning and development platforms has increased significantly during the lockdown as many have used the commuting time to expand their skill sets. If HR directors can make this trend stick over the long-term, it can position their businesses strongly to meet market needs.
Interested in this topic? Read Four stages to embedding a self-determined learning culture.