Working and learning from home

These are strange times to be living and working in.

By 2017, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, more than five million of us were spending some or all of our time working from home. That figure seems certain to have increased since then. But now in 2020 – at least temporarily – COVID-19 must have pushed those numbers massively higher.

It’s not unlikely you’re reading this from home. Right now, more and more of us are doing more and more of everything we do from home. It seems highly unlikely that some of this enforced spike in remote working won’t translate into something more permanent once we emerge from the dislocation of coronavirus. Employers who might previously have doubted home working could work, may soon have changed their minds.

As with so much of contemporary life, technology is the enabler. With their computer or laptop at home connected to the office server via high speed broadband – and with video-conferencing rapidly supplanting face-to-face for all but the most critical of meetings – there’s not much office workers could do at work they cannot now achieve at home.

Those worried that a surge in home working might overstretch our the UK’s broadband networks will have been reassured to see them coping fairly well even in these unprecedented times. According to a recent statement by one broadband provider, BT, the network is at greater risk from Netflix than from home-based working.  COVID-19 will change minds in many ways. This could well be one of them.

For training services providers, the need for so-called social distancing clearly imposes some limitations. Working remotely is no great stretch for most of us white-collar workers in the training world. Most of the time, at least. Clearly, training face to face is hard to beat for communicating certain types of knowledge or skill. But, in reality, we’re already a fair way down the road to replicating its benefits across a range on online delivery channels.

Convenience and cost-effectiveness have long been drivers for uptake of our online offerings. But now that we’re all meant to be avoiding one another in person, there’s an added incentive to learn online. It’s hard to imagine how much worse an impact the current crisis would have had a couple of decades back when technology meant word processors, basic mobile phones, and faxes. Physical location makes much less difference now.

Technology offers the business world a lifeline from a position of peril. The flexibility technology brings gives us all a better chance to trade through the turmoil. Which is just as well. Because, as individuals and as businesses, we’ll still need all the skills we needed before – and more – to pick up where we left off and make up the ground that’s been lost. Learning online enables your staff to stay up to date and fully competent for the roles they occupy.

Regulatory training is a case in point. For our customers in the world of insurance, the Financial Conduct Authority has been at pains to point out that no slack will be cut just because we’re going through ‘interesting times’. Disruption’s no excuse for failing to treat customers fairly or for flouting any of the myriad rules put in place to prevent malpractice and mismanagement.

One crucial thing that real live expert trainers do, that pre-prepared online resources don’t do all by themselves, is staying up to date with the latest developments in their specialist areas. That’s why, in an era where more and more customers want to learn online, it’s so essential that our authors constantly review and update all our online resources. It’s a lot of work, but it has to be done – even if, for now, it might get done at the proverbial kitchen table.

COVID-19 has focused a lot of minds and how to do more remotely with the technology now available. That will bring benefits – not just today, but for the future. Let’s hope we’ll soon get back to shaking hands and making direct eye contact without mentally measuring out two metres – but for now, there’s plenty we can do to stay in shape for the business world to come without even getting up from our desks.

This article originally appeared in T-C News 

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