For those privileged enough to have jobs that can be done safely from home, the realization is dawning that we now have some extra time on our hands. We’re slowly adjusting to the new normal, creating new routines for the kids and have dusted off our cooking skills. The hours we used to spend commuting, shopping, traveling and in some meetings are back in our hands. And many are starting to think about how to channel that time productively.

As leaders, how do we play the long game and help our teams to funnel that energy into the skills, knowledge and thinking that will carry our businesses forward? For many, the answer is to turn to learning. Here’s why now is the time:

The World’s Learning Library is Now Open

Museums everywhere are offering virtual tours and classes, digital course libraries are offering steep discounts or making classes free, companies are creating COVID specific content for businesses, and everyone from NYC Ballet Dancers to Michelin-starred chefs are teaching classes on social media. The time to learn has quite literally never been richer or more accessible.

The Technology is Here

If you weren’t already set up to work virtually, you’ve probably quickly acquired or leaned into the technology that is making it possible. Much of that same technology is wonderful for scaling learning. From the many features that are making Zoom a COVID-era saving grace to Mural, Menti, Sharepoint, Google Docs and Figma, it’s simpler than it ever has been to create and share dynamic live and pre-recorded learning content.

Learning is a Panacea

Improving yourself. Moving your skills and abilities forward. These things simply feel good – something we could all use right now. Learning is a productive way to spend time, offers a valuable alternative to anxiety, and helps break up a day that no longer includes water cooler chit chat and leaving the office for fresh air and lunch with colleagues.

Ready to get started? Here are a few first steps:

  1. Make a list of the top three things you want your teams to learn: You may have had this for some time or the new crisis may have escalated your needs. Either way, focusing in a on a few key learning objectives will help set clear, impactful learning goals.
  2. Assemble resources: Have a digital learning library? Great. Highlight relevant content that aligns to your objectives now. Use external resources like the aforementioned museums, TED Talks, Masterclass and so on as “inspiration doses” to introduce content and make it stick.
  3. Crowdsource content: Don’t have a repository of content on hand? Your existing team is likely to be a treasure trove of skills. Ask individuals to put together live or recorded content that teaches others their superpower.
  4. Create space for learning: Not everyone will find themselves with extra time. For some, the new balance of personal demands and work will not find easy or immediate stasis. Because of the many benefits it offers to the business and to the individual, especially in this moment, give explicit permission to spend time learning.
  5. Problem solve together: We’re all facing new challenges that could benefit from many minds. “Learning by doing” is a powerful way to encode skills. Assembling a small task force to develop solutions will invariably lead to learning because it takes people outside of their day-to-day. Plus you’ll solve problems. Win-win.

The Takeaway

Structured learning is so often an activity that gets sidelined, and it would be easy to push it to one side during a crisis, but it may have even more impact now than any other time. Companies that focus on their culture, people and on the future are likely to weather this storm the most successfully, and learning supports all of these.

So go, stay safe, stay inside, and learn things.