Making Time for Learning in Unusual Times

After three months of office closures with many personnel expected to work from home through the summer or even the end of the year, remote working has become an established practice. According to Gallup, 62% of employed Americans currently say they have worked from home during the crisis, a number that has doubled since mid-March.

Making time for learning while working from homeThe benefits and challenges are well known by now, from savings on commute time to balancing homeschooling and Zoom difficulties. Two of the biggest challenges confirmed by the Remote Work 2020 report include the inability to separate work and personal time, along with fighting loneliness. Another issue that will become more apparent as the shutdown drags on is diminished workplace learning. Upskilling is important in every field, but competing demands and lack of structure are not conducive to continuous learning or career advancement.

As training and development professionals, we can help employees manage their time effectively, develop new skills, and take ownership of their learning, especially now. Here are some top tips to make time for learning while working remotely.

Create a work-learn balance

Just as parents are advised to set a schedule for their homebound children with dedicated time for meals, online classes, assignments, and free play, employees can reap the benefits of a defined routine for balancing meetings, achieving deliverables, and their own training. Most workers understand the importance of work-life balance by following agreed start and end times, so help them prioritize a similar approach to learning. Taking personal as well as learning breaks also helps keep employees motivated and morale from fading.

Set attainable goals

Setting goals helps learners focus on tasks and measure their progress. They can set learning goals such as completing a lesson of an online course, reading articles or industry reports, listening to webinars or attending an online conference. Encourage them to track their learning goals in manageable tasks that can be checked off each day. This will instill a sense of achievement while allowing for continuous upskilling. Accomplishing goals motivates learners to do more, achieve more, and strive for even bigger goals.

Avoid multi-tasking

In a remote environment, it’s difficult not to multitask. Working from home often involves checking emails, texting, videoconferencing, and dealing with home life interruptions simultaneously. Research shows that people overestimate their ability to multitask well. We don’t realize that when multitasking, it generally takes longer to complete each individual task. Discourage bad habits like social media alerts and multiple open browser tabs. Meanwhile, promote a culture of learning where employees are allowed to dedicate time for professional development with few additional expectations in at least 30-minute intervals. Enabling learners to avoid distractions and stay focused will pay off.

Take advantage of apps

Apps like Evernote or Microsoft To Do help manage one’s time when working from home. Using apps can help track progress on work activities and learning goals, and can even help you connect and collaborate with your team. Those who find avoiding electronic distractions to be especially challenging could consider using a distraction-blocking app to remain focused on the task at hand. There are also apps to aid with mental and physical health. Fitness apps set reminders to pause, stretch, and possibly take a lap around the house. Meditation apps promote calm and stress management. There are even apps to help you remember to drink enough water every day.

As the workforce enters the next phase of remote working, it is important that individuals are able to continue to learn and grow. Meeting learning goals is just as important for performance and job satisfaction as completing daily work tasks. We are never done learning and we can’t let the pandemic prevent us from looking for new ways to build our knowledge base and increase our value. You can both lead by example and urge your employees to prioritize their learning goals and fulfill both organizational and personal aspirations during this exceptional time.

To find out how KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. can help you and your organization achieve your learning and upskilling goals while working remotely, contact