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5 Reasons Learning is Essential During a Downturn – Perspectives From a Learning Tech CRO

• 6 min read

COVID-19: Perspectives from a Learning Tech CRO - Why learning and development is essential for a remote workforce

Our friends and families have all reacted differently to the pandemic that is sweeping the globe – some are going about their days as normal and trying to make the most of their isolation, while others have started hoarding toilet paper (you know who you are).

As our healthcare professionals fight to keep our most vulnerable safe, we are all silently doing our part.

Over the past few days, I have enjoyed seeing the faces of Docebo’s global Sales & Marketing teams as we discuss business over coffee from the comfort of our couches and, frankly, I feel that I’m closer to them all now more than I ever was while in my ‘zone’ in the office.

No matter how we’re dealing with COVID-19, the nervousness that we share about the future is valid, but it also spurs us into action. Disruptions on a global scale force businesses to get back to basics and focus on creating a new strategy that can stand up to anything, including how your teams learn.


In times of uncertainty, we need to band together.

Humans, by nature, are social animals, which is why social interactions are crucial to our development at every stage of our lives.

Learning is all about the interactions we have across all facets of our lives: we talk to people, we listen to what they’re saying, and then aim to apply or consider the insights that person is bestowing upon us (and vice-versa).

Today, delivering truly effective and engaging learning experiences that amplify the success of an organization’s learning strategy are crucial to a business’ bottom line. Deploying social learning concepts and technologies as part of the learning mix is no longer an option, it’s a necessity, and the data is there to unpack:

  • Social learning approaches have a 75:1 ROI ratio compared to formal web-based training
  • 82% of businesses that use social learning tools want to increase their use them in the future
  • Course completion increased to 85% on HBX, a Harvard Business School online education initiative when it introduced social learning
  • Semiconductor manufacturer, AMD, says their shift to social learning saves more than US$250,000 per year in web-based training production costs.

Social learning abandons traditional learning models, favoring a more common sense, real-life approach to learning. Compared to traditional formal learning techniques, social learning focuses on how we interact with our peers for just-in-time learning and skill acquisition – a maxim of the 70:20:10 learning framework.


While many of us are in full remote mode, it’s even more important to provide well-targeted content and learning experiences that take into account what people actually want to learn about. This isn’t just about platform set-up, but about making sure that curated content is readily available.

When it comes to learning content, there are three key pain points in getting the right (and most relevant) material in front of learners:

  1. There’s too much content out there
  2. The quality can’t always be verified
  3. “Is it up-to-date?”

Luckily, innovations in the realm of curation have made it possible to automate the time-consuming selection and filtering process to present only the best and most relevant content to learners.

In addition, we’d be foolish to not take full advantage of the power of AI and the personalized guidance of a Virtual Coach.

Virtual Coaches offer tailored instruction at scale by leveraging the ‘forever learning’ nature of Artificial Intelligence. As your learners interact and progress within the platform, the coach learns about them and their preferences, suggesting learning paths that are best suited to them and prompting them to complete courses. Learners can ask questions, receive snippets of relevant content, and receive feedback on their progress.


While the work-life balance of an employee may drastically shift in a remote environment, productivity KPIs and ramp expectations do not. With many organization’s taking a “Business as Usual” approach, it’s more critical than ever that the maintenance of productivity and ramp time standards for employees is met (and ultimately, exceeded).

We understand that a remote workforce will see some clear benefits as well: fewer distractions, and time and money saved commuting to name a few. With fewer distractions and effective time management, an employee that leverages modern learning technologies can effortlessly adopt continuous learning into their new lifestyle, ensuring that productivity is not only maintained – but strengthened.

Employee ramp time isn’t any different and having the right technology in an environment where 1:1 in-person training may not be possible becomes more crucial than ever. Whether employees are ramping locally or abroad, effective learning tech can support learning at scale that provides engaging and social learning experiences – leaving employees satisfied, ramped, and productive in record time (no matter where they are situated).


It’s in times like these where we must stress the importance of staying connected and making sure our people have access to relevant information, when and where they need it most.

By having a ready-to-go instructional model in place remotely, individuals and companies are stronger in unsettled times.

In learning and development, change has guided an evolution from formal training blocks to a merger of working and learning, and now is the time to continue to evolve. That’s where it becomes so integral for companies to provide the tools that support more dynamic ways of learning, especially from remote work environments.

Your learners are used to the digital experiences they have outside of work and you must deliver something similar when it comes to training and learning experiences. This not only ensures buy-in from the get-go but it also keeps them engaged and undoubtedly helps to boost morale in trying times.

Putting out important information is one thing, but delivering and presenting it in a way that actually connects with how your people consume information now is essential to keeping them on top of what needs to be done.


I, like many other business leaders, have been focused on how we can keep things operational and, perhaps now more than ever, is when we must learn from our peers.

Learning, in this sense, is about seeing what others have done, testing what works for your organization, maybe bringing in new tools that will ultimately keep business as close to “normal” as possible. This means creating a technology stack that allows the organization to remain efficient and productive.

We’ve been using Slack to keep collaboration flowing as well as Zoom (with webcams on, of course) to make sure we’re seeing each other’s faces and feeling united. We are going to test new things every week and have reviewed our weekly rituals to make sure we are banding together.

It is also very important to us that we share our knowledge and experiences with the wider community in times like these, where areas such as business continuity are no exception. In the weeks to follow, we will be sharing our strategies and best-practices for handling contingency plans in times of crisis.

I also believe that learning and development professionals can play a big part in helping to future-proof the business by staying ahead of the curve on any skills that are shifting, or understanding how operations may be changing. Their actions, with the support of learning technologies, prevent the firm from being caught flat-footed and having to try and catch up.


2020 will mark an historical time for our modern society, which we will be telling our kids and grandkids about – nothing like COVID-19 has happened since the plague that swept through Europe in the 17th Century.

As a result, individuals and businesses will feel the strain, but we are not powerless – we can fight against it. This is where we all should look to gain some humanity and strive to make a difference to the lives of ourselves and others.

By providing the best possible experience to our customers, our valued partners in business, we can relieve stress from them and their business, which in turn relieves stress from our own organizations and employees. By equipping our employees with timely access to education, we help them feel cared for, taken care of, and, ultimately, loved.

Together, we can join forces and realize what’s really important, and emerge stronger than ever from this downturn.

Stay safe,
Alessio Artuffo