WHAT WERE THE short-term effects of COVID-19? Four recent surveys
provide a glimpse into how big companies, small firms, and education
providers viewed the crisis in the early weeks.
Udemy sees a surge of learners.
In April, the global online
learning platform Udemy released a report quantifying how shelter-in-place orders around the world affected traffic on its platform. After
the pandemic hit, Udemy saw activity increase by:
425% in enrollments
55% in course creation
80% in use by businesses and governments
Enrollments grew by 130 percent in the U.S., 200 percent in India,
320 percent in Italy, and 280 percent in Spain. In Italy, users were
most interested in courses on playing guitar (up 431 percent) and
copywriting (up 418 percent). In contrast, in India, interest surged in
topics such as business fundamentals (up 281 percent) and communication
skills (606 percent). In the U.K., people wanted to learn
character animation (332 percent), while those in the U.S. tackled
Adobe Illustrator (326 percent).
The most dramatic growth occurred for courses on topics related
directly to the challenges and stress brought about by the need to
shelter in place. These included:
Telecommuting (up 21,598%)
Virtual teams (up 1,523%)
Decision making (up 277%)
Self-discipline (up 237%)
Stress management (up 235%)
Meditation (up 111%)
“While the adoption of online learning was accelerated globally by
the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report concludes, “Udemy believes the
move to online learning will be sustained over time, as learners, teachers,
and businesses continue to find value and new applications for
online courses to enhance both their personal and professional lives.
SHRM hears from big business.
The U.S.-based Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, and the global
advisory firm Oxford Economics conducted biweekly surveys
of employers from mid-April to mid-June to track the impact of
COVID-19 on U.S. employers in real time. The first iteration of
this business index received responses from 952 HR professionals
between April 13 and April 15. Among the companies
32% had furloughed or laid off workers.
85% in the hotel and restaurant industry had
furloughed or laid off workers.
41% expected laid-off salaried workers never
In addition, 64 percent of salaried and 49 percent of hourly
employees were working from home (compared to 3 percent
and 2 percent in January). However, companies expected the
percentage of their workforce working from home to return to
pre-crisis levels within six months.
In February, “the dominant challenge facing businesses
was finding talent,” says Dan Levine, who heads the Oxford
Economics Location Strategies practice and was lead researcher
on this project. “This report provides fresh insight
into how this situation has completely reversed and why
weakness in the labor market is deeper and may last longer
than is commonly supposed.”
Small businesses expect the worst.
SHRM released a
second report titled “Navigating COVID-19: The Impact of the
Pandemic on Small Businesses.” Among the 375 small businesses
that responded to the survey between April 15 and
62% reported a general decrease in revenue (47 percent reported losses of 10 percent to 30 percent; 13 percent reported losses of 100 percent)
42% had to close their businesses.
12% reported a general increase in revenue.
52% expected to be out of business within six months.
SHRM’s COVID-19 Business Index was updated through
June 2020. Look for its final findings, as well as a link to its
“Navigating COVID-19” report.
Business schools brace for a recession.
During the early weeks of the pandemic, AACSB International surveyed its global membership to measure business schools’ first
responses. Of more than 300 business schools that responded to an April survey:
60% expect reduced student enrollments.
42% have implemented hiring freezes.
11% have set freezes on faculty and staff promotions.
34% expect that decreased revenue from exec ed
programs will negatively impact bottom lines.
In a May survey, 50 percent of responding schools in the
U.S. were waiving standardized test requirements (compared
to 15 percent in Asia and 11 percent in Europe/Near East), while
46 percent anticipated decreased enrollments within the next six
SHRM’s COVID-19 Business Index was updated through June 2020. Look for its final findings, as well as its “Navigating COVID-19” report on its website.