Working from home stifling learning, engagement and creativity

25 November 2020 3 min. read
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Most companies have failed to adapt their learning culture to engage with employees digitally during lockdown, according to a new study. The research also found that two-thirds of employees view isolation and disengagement as the biggest obstacles they face as the UK undergoes a second lockdown.

One of the persisting worries among many bosses is that working from home means staff become less productive – as it becomes harder to subject their activities to the panopticon of surveillance that is common-place in office life. While research has found that a majority of European executives and managers have seen productivity increase while their staff work remotely during the first lockdown, if they fail to ramp up their training and engagement efforts in the near future, these gains could quickly be lost. 

Results from a new survey by Actus have revealed insights into remote working during the UK’s second lockdown, uncovered a number of prevailing concerns for employees. These centre around lack of opportunities to collaborate, connect and learn as informal face-to-face interactions are restricted due to Covid-19 enforced remote working.

Which do you see as the next set of performance challenges in a semi-virtual world

Responding to questions from Actus, 63% of those polled highlighted ‘a lack of informal collaboration/contact with fellow colleagues affecting information sharing or creativity’ as a key problem. Meanwhile, 60% highlighted a ‘lack of team ethos/spirit’ as their most pressing concern. This was further supported by responses to another question which saw 65% of staff state isolation and disengagement was a major hurdle to be cleared in the new hybrid world of work.

Unless these issues are addressed, firms may struggle to motivate and train their staff effectively, limiting their ability to adapt swiftly to changes in the market. A lack of agility in among such a tumultuous period for the economy could severely inhibit a company’s ability to survive and thrive in the coming months.

What are your key focus areas or challenges over the next 6 monthsMore than two-thirds of HR and Learning professionals surveyed stated that ‘remote learning’ would be a key area of focus and challenge over the next six months for their organisation, with 61% also selecting ‘employee engagement’ as a close second. In spite of this apparent prioritisation, however, most employees do not seem convinced of their employers’ commitment to innovating their digital training systems. According to Actus, 45% of respondents consider their remote training to be simply ‘tick-box compliance,’ while when asked whether they had a learning culture in their organisation, 79% selected the option of ‘not really’ or ‘only in pockets.’

“These results demonstrate a clear concern by employees for their learning, training, and development, with employers not able to implement pre-existing formal training development programmes,” said Lucinda Carney, CEO of Actus Software. “However, what is equally revealing is just how much people are missing their colleagues and the creative ideas that emerge from informal interactions. There is a clear need for organisations to have a people performance platform in place that can both provide effective remote training and enable colleagues to interact both in-person and virtually. This can then also help address any engagement and/or wellbeing concerns they may have.”

Earlier in the year, another survey from Actus found that almost 90% of UK workers were suffering from some level of lethargy while working from home. As lock-down conditions continue to isolate many employees, bosses need to take action to help staff feel supported, and boost their energy levels.