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How Working From Home Prepares You to Be an Online Learner

woman sitting at desk working from home ready for online learning

The last few years have seen a notable shift in how we work, learn, and interact, with more of these activities taking place in virtual environments. Remote work is on the rise, and some researchers and thought leaders have pointed out that virtual learning can prepare students to succeed in a remote or hybrid context.

But the reverse is also true—working from home can prepare professionals for success in virtual learning. If you have adapted to working from home, you’ve had a chance to develop vital skills that will help you succeed in online school. Let’s look at four key ingredients in the recipe for success for remote workers and online learners.

Time Management

The ability to self-motivate and effectively manage your time is crucial when it comes to remote work and virtual learning. 

Time Management in Remote Work

Remote work typically comes with more flexibility—a top reason workers prefer remote or hybrid work arrangements, according to Gallup. With this flexibility also comes more autonomy. In an office, employees are typically expected to work during certain hours and may experience more oversight from managers. Conversely, in a remote work context, employees are more likely to have the freedom to choose when they accomplish tasks and aren’t as likely to have a manager closely monitoring their work. 

This freedom requires you to manage your time independently, stay on track with projects, and keep up with deadlines. 

Time Management in Online Learning

This same skill is vital for success in an online college program, especially an asynchronous one. Asynchronous learning does not include a live class component, which affords maximum flexibility to work at your own pace. You can get your assignments done when they fit into your schedule, so long as you complete them on time. 

As with remote work, this autonomy can be extremely beneficial, but it requires effective time management skills. You’ll need to find online learning routines that work well for you.

Keep in mind that having independence and flexibility doesn’t mean you’re completely on your own! Online classes for adults should still provide robust support. Online learners can receive support from peers, faculty, and staff to help them throughout their educational journey.

Work-Life Balance

Another aspect of learning how to manage your time is discovering ways to balance the various responsibilities and priorities in your life.

Work-Life Balance for Remote Employees

In a 2021 survey, 86 percent of employees (a higher percentage than any other answer) said being able to support their families better and be more present was a key benefit of remote work. With this benefit comes the challenge of effectively integrating and balancing your personal and professional lives.

Learning how to be there for coworkers and family members at the right times is key, especially for employees who are parents. Balance is a difficult thing to strike, and most professionals would say they’re continually learning in this area. 

Work-Life Balance for Online Learners

If you’ve experienced this learning curve as a remote worker, then you’re well-positioned to take on a new responsibility with great success. The lessons you’ve learned about how to set boundaries and find balance will help you tremendously as you take on the new responsibility of an online degree program.

For example, you may have shut out distractions by setting up a great home office space. Experts agree that this is an important means of creating separation between work and home. You can use this same space or another dedicated space to concentrate on your schooling.

Digital Proficiency

Digital proficiency is another key area of remote work that is equally important for online learning. 

Digital Proficiency for Remote Work

Today’s world of remote work relies on a suite of digital tools, including project management software, email and instant messaging platforms, video conferencing tools, and more. 

In addition to the tools that facilitate remote work, many companies are increasingly embracing digital transformation across their operations. Employees today must be agile and ready to learn how to navigate new applications and resources as they are added to a company’s tech stack.

Digital Proficiency for Online Learning

The ability to use virtual tools and environments is vital to your success as an online learner. In fact, this is one of the main distinctions between online learning versus classroom learning. Distance learners must use online tools and resources to access course materials, communicate with professors and peers, and complete assignments.

Some online programs may even involve tools similar to those you use as a remote worker, such as video conferencing and email. Being able to collaborate virtually is key to a successful, peer-supported learning experience.

Virtual Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the top skills employers value, and for good reason—it plays an important role in the workplace. Collaboration is also an important piece of online degree programs.

Virtual Collaboration for Remote Employees

Collaboration is critical to many professional roles, and that remains true when employees are working remotely. Fortunately, companies and employees who have embraced remote and hybrid work have found effective ways to collaborate across the miles.

In fact, at the end of 2020, 44 percent of survey respondents said their companies were collaborating more effectively on new projects than they were pre-pandemic, even with employees working remotely. 

Virtual Collaboration for Online Learners

Although you will complete much of your work in an online degree program independently, collaboration is often an important part of your learning. Some programs use a cohort model or other means of creating an online learning community. Instructors may also assign group projects that call for collaboration.

In addition to formalized structures for peer collaboration, learners can seize their own opportunities to work with fellow students. Study groups, for example, can be a great way to prepare for quizzes and tests with peers who are learning the same material.

Take on an Online Degree Program with Confidence

If you’ve taken on the challenges and realized the benefits of remote work, you’re in a great position to thrive as an online learner.

At Mount Vernon Nazarene University (MVNU), our faculty and staff have seen firsthand how remote workers looking to boost their credentials or make a career change can successfully tackle online school. Want to learn more about choosing an online degree program? Check out our e-book, The Best Online Degree Programs for Working Adults!