How Has 2020 Transformed Workplace Learning?
Earlier this year, The World Health Organization announced a global pandemic due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, and since, stark new economic realities have emerged along with fundamental changes to the business models, working structures and learning programs of many organizations.
Widespread digital transformation has occurred at varying levels within companies. This technological shift has been referred to as a “historic deployment of remote work and digital access across every domain”.
As 2020 draws to a close, we can reflect on this monumental year of social and technological change and begin to understand what this year of widespread rapid digital adoption means and what impact the pandemic has had on corporate learning.
Below are a list of the biggest trends from the past 12 months:
- 2020 – The Year of Digital Transformation
- The Rise of Video Conferencing
- 2021 – A Shift Towards a Remote Working Model
- Strong Awareness of The Benefits of eLearning
2020 – The Year Of Digital Transformation
This year has accelerated digital adoption from both a consumer and professional perspective. Historically, it often takes a crisis to accelerate innovative change.
“necessity is the mother of invention”.
One example of this from the 20th century is the Spanish flu of 1918, when the need for an automated telephone system emerged to allow people stay in contact from a distance.
One only needs to examine the rise of video conferencing software platforms this year to understand how this is similar for 2020.
The Rise Of Video Conferencing
At the beginning of the year, video conferencing platforms were primarily used in corporate environments and now have been widely integrated domestically and culturally as a tool to socialize and stay connected in every facet of life. This is arguably the case for digital adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 as business’ have transformed forever.
In just a few months, this pandemic has induced years of technological change. A recent report shows that we have moved five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in just 8 weeks.
2021 – A Shift Towards A Remote Working Model
Currently, many companies are strategizing a phased return to the office in line with relevant government regulations, however it is now becoming clear that some companies may never return to the office full time.
A recent study showed that of the 25,000 remote workers surveyed, 54% said they would prefer remote working to be their primary way of working.
As employees will likely be more geographically dispersed in the future, how will the learning process be adequately met?
Traditionally, in work environments, employees learn from workshops, meetings and other employees and receive immediate, in-person responses. How does a remote model sufficiently meet this or will learning gaps, and in turn, performance gaps emerge?
It has become apparent that video as a means of communication is bridging communication gaps, but is this sufficient long-term?
Strong Awareness Of The Benefits Of eLearning
One barrier to online learning is not having access to the right technological delivery method. Although, when this access is in place, there are many benefits compared to traditional learning. The true effects of greater integration of IT in education are yet to be fully discovered, however currently the range of benefits appear positive for both companies and employees.
Below are just some of the benefits companies are experiencing as a result of this digital shift:
Some research has shown that people can retain 25-60% more knowledge when learning online due to the capacity to learn faster and at their own pace, re-reading, skipping, or fast-forwarding through concepts they choose in a setting or timeframe that suits them.
A significant benefit of eLearning is it often eliminates several associated costs of traditional methods: travel/accommodation expenses, on-site trainers, and materials to mention a few. Online learning minimizes the loss of productivity associated with attending physical training, such as time loss. This means workload tasks may be compromised and this is an indirect cost paid by employers.
Greater Learning Capacity
One study found that students learned five times more material in online learning courses using multimedia content than in traditional classroom settings.
Greater flexibility allows individuals the freedom to learn at a time and place that suits them, while working at their own pace.
Learning can be personalized to suit the users’ specific needs more accurately than traditional group classroom sessions.
An indirect benefit of online learning comes in the form of lesser environmental impacts due to reduced carbon emissions, pollution, paper, energy and natural resources consumption. Increasingly, investors expect companies to engage in positive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, and eLearning may play a part in the answer to this.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has been the most influential force of change in 2020 and biggest accelerator of digital adoption and transformation. It is looking likely that many aspects of these changes are here to stay in the form of digitally optimized workplace models, improved digital ecosystems and a shift to a more remote working model, one where eLearning will play an important role for success.
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McKinsey (2020). Digital adoption through COVID-19 and beyond | McKinsey. [online] Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/the-covid-19-recovery-will-be-digital-a-plan-for-the-first-90-days#.
IBM (2020). IBM Study: COVID-19 Is Significantly Altering U.S. Consumer Behavior and Plans Post-Crisis. [online] IBM News Room. Available at: https://newsroom.ibm.com/2020-05-01-IBM-Study-COVID-19-Is-Significantly-Altering-U-S-Consumer-Behavior-and-Plans-Post-Crisis.
Pezold, S. (2017). LMS 101: Rethinking Your Approach To Employee Training. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paycom/2017/02/14/learning-management-systems-101-rethinking-your-approach-to-employee-training/?sh=48a46d29755b