In January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (coronavirus) a global health emergency. This pandemic has led to economic impacts, business struggles, social and physical distancing and even national lockdowns. During this critical time, Learning and Development play an important role for corporate and business, stepping up to maintain a healthy and productive workforce.
Learning and Development During a Time of Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic will be a time remembered in many years to come. It has affected all aspects of life, from health regulations, economic struggles to social and political impacts. Many restrictive rules and regulations have been implemented globally, ranging from mass quarantines, lockdowns as well social and physical distancing to even closures of schools, businesses and other institutions.
Based on the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker and BBC Research, National lockdowns have been regulated in Asian countries such as Nepal, Malaysia, India, Iran and Pakistan. With Wuhan, China—as the centre of the epidemic, initiating the first lockdown. Meanwhile European countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark have also implemented national lockdown policies.
Meanwhile in Australia, self-quarantine had been officially applied for 14 days. The Australian Council of Trades called for two weeks paid leave for employees who were forced to take time off. Therefore, according to the Australian Government Fairwork Ombudsman, working arrangements were set to arrange flexible work including options to work from home, changing number of hours, changing the start or finish time of employee’s shifts, changing work patterns and changing type of work done by employees.
These regulations have transformed many sectors, including corporate and business aspects. Policies have been made for the workforce to adapt during the pandemic, including shift switching schedules, remote working and work-from-home (WFH). But how does these work-from-home and remote working policies operate effectively during a pandemic? Definitely, through an online approach.
This is where the Learning and Development (L&D) professionals have to step up their game. They have the ability and capability to enable corporate training to be delivered through online based measures, circumventing the need for face-to-face interaction.
The Advantages of Corporate eLearning During the Covid-19 Pandemic
With social and physical distancing, lockdowns and also quarantines deployed as measures to avoid transmission during this pandemic, many corporations and businesses have considered work-from-home or remote working policies for employees.
These policies support corporations and businesses to still operate despite the pandemic, but at the same time minimize the risk of transmission while maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. With a quick and adaptive approach, ideas such as e-learning, online training and virtual communication can be successfully implemented throughout the workforce, even from home.
For companies that are not yet familiar with eLearning, this would be the right time for the Learning and Development professionals to initiate ideas to successfully make use of online training approaches and make it familiar among the workforce.
Meanwhile companies that have already operated eLearning and training have a better chance of developing and experimenting various methods and courses, preferably creative approaches to prompt new online strategies.
A few examples aside to activate corporate eLearning, can include strategies and ideas such as providing psychosocial support, activating digital learning systems, setting offline functions for easier accessibility, opening massive open online course (MOOC) platforms and providing self-directed learning content.
These initiatives can also help narrow the knowledge gap of conventional employees that aren’t yet familiar with e-learning and modern workers who are already in line with the progress of eLearning.
With a well-planned eLearning platform, Learning and Development can be accessed efficiently, and still effectively maintain productivity while supporting social and physical distancing.
How eLearning is Shaping the Workforce
As eLearning enables corporate training during this pandemic, the workforce entirely relies on online based courses and insights. Learning and Development strategies now maximize the use of online learning platforms and also consider the avid use of technology to enable accessible learning and communication methods.
For instance, a usual weekly meeting can still be held through a virtual conference through PC and mobile devices. Online virtual communications such as Zoom, Skype, Google Duo, DingTalk, Facetime, WhatsApp and similar video conference platforms can be used as options to substitute ways of communication among the workforce as well as between learners and coaches or trainers. This can simplify circumvent the need to communicate face-to-face effectively.
Microsoft even disclosed an increase by up to 70% from a month ago with a total of more than 40 million daily active Skype users, as Marketwatch reports. This also applies to Zoom. According to data from Apptopia, as of March 22, there was a 378% increase of daily users and a 168% increase of monthly users. The increasing numbers of Skype and Zoom users during the pandemic and work-from-home policies, indicates the learning and development process successful for virtual communication approaches.
The increased use of eLearning also shapes how data is being stored, mostly through cloud storage such as Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft One Drive, and personal devices. For companies with confidential data management, storing data with this method might be a risk. But with technology such as intranet, internal drives and multi-factor authentication, these security issues can be prevented to keep data secure.
Despite the risk, eLearning is still one the most effective ways to keep the workforce connected. Digital learning can also shape the workforce with creative methods. Unlimited boundaries of eLearning access can spark interesting approaches such as online collaborations, extra courses, and out-of-the-box learning concepts. Online based learning can also advantage employees that prefer self-directed learning or those that prefer learning through social media platforms, virtual events, webinars, and online classes with or without instructors.
But at the end of the day Learning and Development during a Pandemic is all about adapting. The corporations have to adapt their business plans, Learning and Development professionals to online and virtual approaches, and the workforce to an eLearning experience. Digital learning might just be the solution that helps corporations maintain a productive and healthy workforce during difficult crisis.