Finding enough time used to be the limiting factor when it came to learning for many working people. Now, with the Coronavirus lockdown in place for the foreseeable future, employees who are based from home are devoting surplus time to improving professional skills and learning mental health management techniques.
Usage data gathered across 6 European countries by GoodHabitz during March 2020 shows that as lockdowns were imposed in the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Spain, the numbers of people completing its online courses rose by 97%. Levels of learning increased by over 40% in every country, with Germany and Holland seeing over 70% increases, Belgium showing a 167% increase and exponential 530% growth in Spain, the country which had enforced the strictest lockdown measures. The UK saw a 51% rise in the numbers of learners.
Further analysis of the actual course topics being selected showed that although self help topics such as mindfulness, improving sleep health and stress management were in the top 5 for most countries, professional development courses were highest demand. In every region, a course on using Microsoft Excel was most heavily accessed, with using Outlook and Word courses, change management, improving time management and customer satisfaction courses also seeing high completion rates.
Research by the UK thinktank Demos identified that lack of time was one of the main obstacles for people when it comes to online learning. It is also a continual issue facing L&D departments tasked with creating a lifelong culture of learning. In the UK, where the average daily commuting time is 60 minutes, rising to 90 minutes in London according to TUC data, people can struggle to find the time. Now, as many organisations forced by the lockdown to introduce remote working are discovering its longer term viability, what can equate to an extra day a week is being utilised to develop new skills and knowledge.
In between remote working, video meetings, cooking, schooling children, watching Netflix and exercising, subscribers are choosing to fill their days learning something new, which is fantastic. Interesting they are choosing Excel and perhaps now its popularity comes from the fact that organisations everywhere are having to heavily scrutinise their spending, and it’s the best place to start when it comes to financial planning.
What is also interesting but perhaps not so surprising, was that in every country analysed except Germany, the course on time management was in the top five completed. In Germany the focus was on influencing and negotiation skills and learning techniques instead. UK learners were most interested in developing their Microsoft skills, with courses on Excel, Word and Outlook taking the top three places.