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Unlock Upskilling in Lockdown

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by Paul Ford

You’ve got your home office all set up and running. The IT is working fine, productivity is up now you’re not having to spend all that time commuting, the new normal is becoming…well, normal. But when you finally press the laptop lid closed at the end of a busy day, are you finding yourself with time on your hands? It can be easy with the current lockdown in place to find yourself a little lost for a sense of purpose. After all, you can only binge on so many box-sets, no matter what your streaming channel of choice might say.

Consider upskilling. Taking the time that you’ve been gifted and making something of it. Making something more of you. Think about it. Haven’t you said previously that you’d love to do something, if only you had the time?  Well, now you do. And thanks to the multitude of learning tools and training platforms available online, your teacher, mentor or guru is there, just waiting for you.

You can start close to home. If your employer offers a range of training and development resources then it’s a good time to investigate them. Naturally they’ll be relevant to the sector you work in, whether they’re internal or via an external provider, so there’ll be a direct application to your everyday role. And with lasting benefits long beyond the lockdown, it’s a win-win for you and your employer.

The amount of online training available is staggering. OpenLearn, part of the Open University, offers around a 1000 courses across eight different subject areas that are all free. Their Money and Business courses cover a wide range of topics from Personal Branding and Developing Career Resilience to Management, Communication, Marketing, Commercial Awareness and much more. The American-based hosts 100,000 online video courses on subjects across Business, Design, IT and Software and others with prices typically starting well under £20. LinkedIn Learning provides a free month of access to its extensive range of business related training videos before a monthly charge of £24.98 kicks in.

On a more abstract level, but no less important, have you considered brain training? We’re talking about exercises designed to improve your mental abilities, such as memory, focus and attention, the rate at which you can process information and even your intelligence. BrainHQ has a selection of free exercises when you sign up, and for a £9 per month subscription you can get a personalised trainer that helps measure your performance and sets up the exercises. It’s like a gym for the mind!

How about getting out of the house for a while? An industry expo in California perhaps? Virtually of course. Faced with the pandemic, many already organised events, seminars and conferences across the world rose to the challenge and switched across to videoconferencing platforms. And with the rising awareness of climate change and the swift adoption of the technology that facilitates these mass meetings, this way of networking, learning and collaborating is likely to become the accepted way of doing things. Attending these and learning how to get the best out of them is going to a valuable skill in itself.

And you could find out a bit more about the whole video-conferencing thing too while you’re at it. Technology finds its way into almost every aspect of the modern working environment. Dig into it. You just use your work smartphone for calls and emails? Maybe the alarm? Find out what else it can do. Don’t just use, understand. These are tools and the more you know, the more value you’ll get from them. For most phones you’ll find the full manual is available on the manufacturer’s website. Not sure what model it is? Ask your favourite IT geek. And the same goes for your laptop and the software that comes with it. They probably do things you’d never even thought of. Find out what and then use them.

So however long the lockdown lasts, make time to learn. Even if it’s just a few minutes, at the beginning, the end or even in the middle, structure your day to make learning part of it. Turn this situation to your advantage and come out of it better equipped to take on the new challenges the post-pandemic world is going to throw at us.