Blog Post

Learning in a Socially Distanced World

Cornerstone Editors

The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces.

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They say you should try to maintain your old routines during a crisis.

When our team at Cornerstone moved to fully-remote work in response to COVID-19, daily life changed for everyone. So did a critical part of my own work routine: learning. For me, it isn’t just part of my job as senior product marketing strategist of learning—it’s also core to my personality. I’m always eager to learn new things to the point that even my passwords are designed to teach myself important tidbits of information.

My main source of inspiration for new topics and ideas to explore was conversation around the office—but it’s now gone. So how can I continue to absorb information in my new work environment? It’s been crucial for me to develop a strategy for learning and discovery during this period that will (hopefully) last well beyond it.

Taking Stock of My Digital—and Human—Resources

Luckily, the digital age is on our side when it comes to remote learning. At Cornerstone, all employees have access to an enormous partner content library. In addition to looking through available courses that might pique our interest, we can also see which ones are trending. As a result, I can stay in tune with the most important skills across businesses today, which include: 1) communication, 2) leadership and 3) personal growth.

Beyond digital learning resources, other people can be incredible, untapped sources of knowledge. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there seems to be a "lag" as the old world transitions to this new, hopefully temporary, mode of working. My calendar is a bit emptier, so I’m taking the time to proactively connect with people I admire and schedule conversations to learn from them. I’m also looking out for opportunities to be a resource to others, too—I’m sure that everyone could use the human connection right now.

Cross-Referencing Available Courses With My Goals

With so much content at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to try to choose the most relevant or interesting learning development program. To help focus my search, I’ve chosen courses based on my personal goal to become a better storyteller—one with the ability to influence others with compelling visions of the future. I find it’s easier to adjust your message to an audience you can read in-person, in real time. But our new world of remote work requires communicating effectively without this kind of feedback (even video conferencing isn’t quite the same). So, I’ve committed to improving my remote communication skills.

Staying Motivated and Accountable

One of the most challenging components of learning remotely, in my view, is the feeling of disconnection. There’s no manager or team lead dropping by your desk to check on your progress. People are relying on work chat and video conferencing platforms to communicate with colleagues and, well, anyone outside of their homes. Because we may be in this remote limbo for a while, I know I need to get creative around how to stay engaged in my learning.

So, I’m thinking about this endeavor as a two-week "learning sprint." During that time, I will focus on setting achievable goals for my own learning, and pass along learnings when I feel colleagues will benefit from them. I’ll be proactive and tell my mentors—and even my colleagues—about these plans. And after two weeks, I hope to feel inspired to begin the process anew. These are strategies anyone can use—I welcome all who want to join me in pursuing learning for the future.

In addition to surveying the online learning options your company or a quick web search may provide, you can add Cornerstone’s content library to your resource collection, too. Our platform is available to everyone for free here.

Ike Bennion is the Senior Product Marketing Strategist, Learning at Cornerstone.

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