Here’s how a majority of employees today spend their time at work: They sit in front of a computer for about 6.5 hours per day, spend 28 percent of their time on email, 19 percent searching for information, and 14 percent communicating in meetings. They spend, on average, a scant five minutes each day on formal learning.[*]
Devoting such little time to training may have been adequate 10 or even five years ago—when technology changed infrequently, employees had fewer distractions, and most workers adhered to a standard work schedule. But that kind of approach is not enough to help employees meet the demands of today’s digital workplace. Very few people have the time or need for intensive offsite or multi-day courses. Employees increasingly need “just-in-time” support and training—quick, always-available learning that enables them to get up to speed with new features or helps them to clear small hurdles that are preventing them from completing tasks.
In the span of a decade, the nature of work changed from measured and often predictable to frenetic and usually unpredictable.
Companies recently have begun to recognize the critical role of training in the digital workplace. They understand that, to encourage innovation, they must provide cutting-edge digital approaches that incorporate AI, machine learning, simulation and data—as well as time-tested modalities like classroom-based and instructor-led training.
In recent posts, we explored how digital learning benefits organizations. In this piece, we examine three ways digital learning can benefit you, the employee:
- You save time. Smartphones, emails, IMs, texts, chatty colleagues—employees are more distracted than ever. They also consume five times more information than they did 30 years ago, according to research. Digital training options make it easier for time-crunched workers to maintain and advance their skills. For example, supercharged videos enable people to find relevant information quickly, without having to spend extra time viewing or fast-forwarding through content they don’t need at that moment. They can get what they need and get back to work.
- You get exactly what you need, the moment you need it. Research shows that employees want self-directed learning opportunities that are accessible in the “moment of need”—quick answers to questions they are facing at that very moment. These “just in time” digital training options like self-help learning portals, supercharged videos and other modular content enable workers to find answers quickly and resume their work. Data also figures heavily into digital learning. Organizations are able to use data to identify what parts of a course you skip, what parts you spend the most time on, and other factors.
- You are more engaged and productive. The biggest decrease in knowledge retention occurs during the first hour after training, according to research. With digital options like simulation-based instruction, users can apply knowledge as they are learning—this provides learners with valuable practice and enables them to build confidence and competence.
In the span of a decade, the nature of work changed from measured and often predictable to frenetic and usually unpredictable. To keep up, employees must approach work in an entirely different way. But to excel and innovate, they need to go a little further—they need to ask questions, find answers, fail, and succeed. Employees who take advantage of the digital learning resources provided by their organization will be more successful in achieving their goals.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.