Online learning booms as many turn to self enrichment during COVID-19
One of the challenges faced by businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is having to control costs and improve operational efficiency, while managing a dispersed workforce that is primarily working from home.
For online-learning businesses such as Bangkok-based English learning platform, Globish Academia, this challenge became an opportunity.
With the widespread closure of schools and the need for students of all ages to continue with learning from home, a rush to digitize tutoring businesses followed. Globish Academia, however, was already ahead of the curve and leading in a more specialized market: live online English learning.
During this period, Globish Academia saw its classes almost triple from 250 per day to more than 600 in March and April and Globish Academia’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Gittitouch Apisaksirikul, believes the momentum will continue.
“The live online learning market in Thailand is growing faster than the rest of the education industry because it is relatively new in Thailand. It is growing at approximately 35% each year,” Gittitouch says.
Building flexibility into the business
During challenging times, many companies look to scale back their operations and office needs. For Globish Academia, this was however not the case. With close to 120 employees, a number that has risen steadily from just 35 only a few years ago, Globish Academia’s focus was to ensure they are empowered with flexibility and scalability in their choice of office space. The option of traditional office spaces was too restrictive in support of their growth and needs, and so they opted for a co-working space, specifically WeWork Spring Tower in Ratchathewi.
“It was not practical or feasible for us to search for traditional types of offices, with standard leases. We would have been restrained to a space that caters to only a certain number of people and that would be unable to support our plans to scale in the near future,” Gittitouch says.
“A co-working space like WeWork matches our needs given its flexibility in supporting our growth plans and also helping us enrich our employee experience.”
COVID-19 accelerates live online classes
Globish Academia’s classes cater to three target segments. The first is for working adults, followed by young adults from 7 to 14 years, and the third is a business-to-business product that can be bespoked to fit the requirements of the clients.
Anticipating the trend towards more live online learning, Globish Academia developed an online classroom platform to support its classes and have plans to white-label the platform for other e-tutoring schools to leverage for their classes.
Globish Academia has so far partnered with a Chinese language school to support its expansion into live online learning, and there are also future plans for Globish Academia to expand its business into Vietnam.
Referring to Globish Academia’s teaching style, Gittitouch says his company differentiates from international competitors because it emphasizes the need for ‘localization’. This gives Globish the edge and advantage to better plan and align with the Thai students’ learning journeys and also better address challenges they face in learning English.
“Learning a new language can often be intimidating but our localized approach and situation-based learnings have definitely helped put our students at ease and instil enjoyment and relevance in the learning process,” he says.
Gittitouch also shares how the education sector is a dynamic one. While the focus is on live online English classes, he sees the potential to also offer in person workshops, which he believes WeWork’s aesthetics and focus on hygiene and safety will provide the ideal backdrop for.
The online education market is expected to continue growing in parallel with the growth of Thailand’s digital infrastructure. Currently, most of Globish Academia’s customers are from Bangkok and other large cities in Thailand, but within the next five years, the advancement of Thailand’s internet connectivity will boost the adoption of online learning.
Co-working space: the best choice
With business continuity planning a key element in future-proofing businesses Globish Academia also reflects how WeWork has played an essential role in cultivating a creative work culture, and an environment which the team enjoys.
“My team really enjoys the WeWork environment. Not only are the spaces designed in an engaging and functional way for interactions and engagements, WeWork’s community team has also been intuitive to our needs and has fostered a close bond with us.”
“WeWork’s thoughtfully designed workspace has definitely helped Globish Academia increase our employee productivity and performance.”
“The layout and design at WeWork Spring Tower help support our varied functions and needs - by having separate rooms and space allocated to functions who might need more privacy e.g. finance, sales etc. The common areas are great breakout areas for the product teams to brainstorm new ideas and the meetings rooms also facilitate our online classes.”
“WeWork’s space is a true reflection of Globish Academia's culture and push for collaborations.”
Gittitouch explains that Globish Academia aims to help all of its customers to grow, both personally and professionally. As a leader, it is important that he also helps the employees develop. Now more so than ever, in this challenging climate, he wants to make sure that Globish Academia’s culture persists through all of the coming changes and potential challenges.
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