Going Remote: Why EdTech Can Create the Next Generation of Workers | TopMBA.com

Going Remote: Why EdTech Can Create the Next Generation of Workers

By Linda Mohamed

Updated May 22, 2020 Updated May 22, 2020

From small businesses to Silicon Valley tech giants, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the way people work and interact across the globe.

With entire cities, regions and countries in lockdown, millions of workers have been forced to abandon in-person interaction, instead utilizing DIY home offices, instant messaging and video calls on platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom, whose profits have skyrocketed after the pandemic reached the Western hemisphere.

This has raised important questions about the future of work.

As country-wide restrictions in European and North American economic hubs are expected to be lifted in the upcoming weeks or months, employers such as JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and IBM have started planning office makeovers to facilitate a social-distanced return to traditional practices. These include airport-style security screenings, plexiglass barriers in between desks and consistent temperature checks for employees throughout the day.

However, despite the sudden switch to online, employees from a wide range of industries and sectors appear to have successfully adapted to remote work, with some even preferring it to an office-based 9 to 5.

According to a Gartner survey, 41 percent of employees say they’d be more willing to work remotely at least “some of the time” once they return to normality. According to another survey, which analyzed data from 1.5m sources, 72 percent of staff expect their employers to offer more flexible working opportunities after lockdowns are lifted.

Company-wide researches confirm these findings and raise doubts over productivity in traditional work settings. In fact, a poll by Canada Life revealed that people who work from home feel more productive compared with regular office workers, while recent surveys at top businesses such as Microsoft, Salesforce and IBM showed that employees would prefer to stay remote for the foreseeable future.

These figures shouldn’t come as a surprise. Remote work not only enables hiring and enrollment on a global scale – increasing their chances of finding a job without having to relocate to expensive employment hubs and/or commute – but also provides the work-life balance that many felt lacked in an office-based 9 to 5.

And with internships now going digital too, it seems that remote work is here to stay.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a transition to online will be easy for everyone. Some employees working from home have recently reported feeling more lonely and burned out as the lines between work and daily life continue to blur, causing them to have an “always-on” mindset.

However, the situation is different for those who already have significant experience studying online.

In fact, studying through EdTech platforms – whether for undergraduate, postgraduate or short, certificate-based degrees – has taught people to work from their homes and maintain continuity at a distance for decades. This includes fighting distractions and being able to collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders virtually, skills that are likely going to become extremely valuable in a post-Covid world.

In a sense, it seems that EdTech has already been, voluntarily or not, preparing future workers to tackle the business challenges of our times. Perhaps this is the reason why EdTech usage has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 outbreak and is expected to boom throughout the 2020s.

Robert Hsiung, China CEO of the online educational company EMERITUS, told TopMBA that the pandemic has improved people’s perceptions of online education, and that companies are finally starting to realize the value of having employees prepared to work digitally.

He said: “Executives who are in a stronger cashflow position realize that this year will be a slow growth year and are willing to take the time to invest in themselves [and upskill]. Likewise, white-collar workers are anticipating a downturn in the economy and potential unemployment, so they are taking advantage of this time to get certified and prepared for the next stage in their careers.”

While it’s difficult to predict what the “new normal” will look like, it’s undeniable that employers will soon have to rethink their definition of a successful working experience and hire staff prepared to step up to the plate virtually.

Under these extraordinary circumstances, those with an EdTech background will soon find themselves at the forefront of this new work wave.

This article was originally published in May 2020 .

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