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We are living and working in an increasingly connected world. The continued rise of our digital age has resulted in many benefits, including the democratization of education and training. It is now no longer necessary to only attend traditional institutions to gain the skills and knowledge we need to succeed in our chosen careers. Whether from YouTube tutorials, internal training modules, or formal courses, eLearning presents opportunities for us all to thrive.
This is also reflective of changes in our working practices. Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses have begun to adopt remote operations. While some may be returning to in-person routines, there are many who have plans to make remote working a more permanent feature. While this may be a tough adjustment for some workers, in some ways those of us who have engaged with eLearning have something of a leg up.
Let’s take a closer look at how eLearning can help us.
One of the primary needs of remote employees is excellent communication. Offices provide an environment that makes talking to colleagues and facilitating discussions easy. In-office, there are ample opportunities to converse with colleagues, and develop the kinds of relationships that support collaboration.
It’s true that remote working offers many advantages to employees — it eliminates the difficulties of the commute, and workers with disabilities are able to utilize their own assistive technology. However, communication is an area that many find more challenging.
The good news is, eLearning can help us to develop these remote communications skills. Online educational platforms will often provide access to chatrooms and forums in which students are encouraged to discuss the course, and express any issues they may be having.
This can help you to develop effective professional discussion skills through remote text platforms. It also allows you to practice reading and responding appropriately to challenging behavior, without the benefit of body language and other visual cues we often rely upon in collaboration.
Taking eLearning courses also prepares you for receiving criticism in what can feel like an unempathetic fashion. Receiving notes on your project via a remote messaging service can seem harsher than it would be if it were cushioned by conversation and personal touches.
During online education, you’ll usually receive feedback from course tutors via email or a messaging system. This allows you to develop the mental and emotional mechanisms that allow you to step back and understand that while criticism can feel harsh, this is more the nature of the medium, rather than a reflection of your work.
Working from home can be a pleasant change from the office environment, and provides workers with a greater sense of independence. In fact, some employees find that without the physical presence of senior staff, and the ability to work to their own schedule, they’re more productive.
Others struggle with this aspect, finding it difficult to hit targets and innovate without traditional work environments and the support of a physical team. As such, remote operations are often more suited to those who are self-driven.
This independence doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but eLearning can influence the development of this trait in us. Certainly, there’s the same absence of fellow students and physical teaching staff. However, courses are set up in a structured manner — each module tends to have exercises, and frequent assessments designed for independent learning. This can help provide us with a way into developing the personal organizational tools we need in the remote workplace to achieve our goals.
The independent nature of eLearning also encourages us to explore on our own, and personalize our educational experience. In order to understand a subject more fully, we have to go off and find sources not provided in the course syllabus. Finding new areas of interest following an eLearning course can also encourage us to hunt down other courses.
This helps to instill in us the confidence to go down the rabbit hole and consider new avenues and offer fresh ideas. The ability to be proactive is one of the most desired traits in remote workers, and your independent commitment to self-improvement shows you don’t need to be directed in order to achieve.
One of the aspects of remote working that is getting a lot of attention lately is discipline. There is debate about managers continually monitoring remote employees, rather than trusting them to undertake their duties as they would in the office.
While constantly keeping tabs on workers can certainly be an overreach, some employees new to remote working may find it difficult to maintain discipline. This is usually not from a sense of intentional laziness. It’s more likely to be a blurring of the boundaries between home and work — which can be distracting, and stressful.
Taking an eLearning course can help ease us into a disciplined approach to getting essential tasks done in our personal environment. While online learning is flexible, you still have a certain amount to achieve within a set time period. As such you need to adopt best practices within the flexibility — set regular working hours, and keep focused during that time, rather than studying in what is essentially overtime. ELearning helps us to experiment with routines in a way that we often don’t when we’re thrust immediately into remote operations.
An online course also helps us to understand how to be disciplined about setting boundaries. In study, as in employment, we have to be able to separate our work from our home in order to achieve a healthy balance. ELearning courses give us the opportunity to create dedicated spaces for our work — physically and mentally. We get to discover what environments we’re more focused in, and how to take breaks away from the stress of work activities.
Conclusion – Learning to Prepare
It’s important to remember that education isn’t just teaching us a specific subject matter; it often provides us with personal insights. Taking the initiative to engage with eLearning helps to shine a light on areas of remote work in which we might struggle. It can also give us the space to develop traits and practices to overcome weaknesses and prove ourselves to be valuable remote employees.