Working in an open space from an eLearning Developer’s perspective: is a home office the better choice?

eLearning has become more and more needed and implemented since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously eLearning was mostly used in school or corporate environments for mandatory courses, but for the past year and half, the use of it has gained more shapes and possibilities.

The position of an eLearning developer/specialist is usually occupied by someone with a background in teaching or with training experience, since this knowledge helps a lot in guiding Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) through the process of creating learning material. This position requires not only a deep understanding of the technology behind developing a course, but also how to make learners more engaged. In this process, communication with SMEs and other people who might be working on the same project is crucial.

The person who oversees creating a course should be also involved in the coordination of eLearning projects and to understand what steps are taken from the initial communication, until the final publication. If there are any obstacles in communication with SMEs, there is the risk of several problems coming up, like re-doing certain parts of the course several times upon SMEs requests, re-doing the design or the lack of a fixed deadline for providing feedback to the eLearning developer. Therefore, it’s very important to set up a clear process.

During the development itself, the developer needs to be highly concentrated, focused and detail oriented. Mistakes in the content transfer, creating triggers, branching scenarios and the design itself can take up quite a lot of time and effort. One of these tasks is more demanding than others, and that is recording voice overs or editing audio for text to speech.

These tasks require a high level of focus and a quiet environment. One of the biggest challenges is to do this on a daily basis in an open space office.

Open space has become very popular and widely used by the international companies, where many people share a very large open space. Some of these companies have a “clean desk policy”, which means that after each working day, they should leave the desk as they found it – not leaving anything personal behind.

For some people, this does not only create lack of personal touch in their working space which they use for at least 8 hours a day, but it also makes it difficult to concentrate with dozens of voices talking around you. This is where any audio editing or voice recording becomes a real challenge.

As mentioned above, a part of an eLearning specialist’s work is to communicate with stakeholders about the development of the course, so having calls in the middle of an open space can become a real obstacle. Even though there are usually special booths available for conducting conference calls, this is not a good environment to spend more time in than what is actually needed. These booths are very small, usually made for one or two people, without sunlight and fresh air. As eLearning developers spend most of their time in front of a screen, additional time in a small room without good lighting and air circulation can cause eye strain, bad posture, headache, and a lack of concentration.

Conference rooms on the other hand aren’t always available and need to be booked in advance. This leads to the question – if we need to book a conference room every day for the majority of our time spent at the office, then is open space really the best way to go for certain job positions?

If a person is obviously less productive in an open space environment, then there should be the possibility of a home or dedicated office. On the days when the eLearning developer is needed for in-person meetings, trainings, or other activities, then the open space office is justified and a good way to socialize with colleagues.

What are your thoughts on working in a large open space? Did you find more pros or cons while sharing an office with a larger number of people?

%d bloggers like this: