Category Archives: Market Research

The work from home privilege [TUPdate]

By Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, May 22, 2020

Working from home. While it is a blessing for some and may feel like a curse for others, only the few get the privilege. Being able to work from home during widespread public health safety shutdowns has sustained employment for many employees. It has also brought new challenges for those with school-age children or insufficient technology. It has also brought about faster adoption of certain technology products and services while revealing long-present sociological differences. The differences may persist while many of the technological changes will be temporary and evolutionary, not revolutionary.

One in four online Americans are working from home

As of May 14th, 2020, one fourth of online Americans (26%) were working at home. This represents 60% of online Americans employed full-time or part-time on May 14th, 2020. Most of these only started working from home recently. Almost half (48%) of employed online American adults started working from home after February 2020.

Rise in online Americans not employed

Also, as of May 14th, 43% of online Americans were employed full-time or part-time, 8% were self-employed, and 19% reported being temporarily or seasonally unemployed.

Note that 19% rate is not a directly comparable measure to the widely followed U3 unemployment rate from the BLS, which represents active jobseekers. Instead, it is closer in methodology to the U6 rate, which includes discouraged and unemployed workers not actively seeking employment. However, since this survey only included online respondents, offline or disconnected Americans are not included in these results. Their inclusion would make the overall percentage of American adults working from home somewhat lower.

Working at home is strongest among upper socioeconomic groups

Working at home is strongly associated with socioeconomic factors.

A higher share of those with higher educational attainment and household income are working from home. For those with graduate degrees, the rate (56%) is double the national average. In stark contrast, only 7% of employees whose highest educational attainment is high school are working from home, and only 14% of those who have completed some college.

Similarly, higher paid employees have a higher work-from-home rate, at 42% for those with a household income of $85,000 or higher.

Salary and education only two factors explaining higher work-at-home rates. Many occupations do not lend themselves well to working at home. Also, some employers have not embraced having employees work remotely nor have some employers prepared adequately.

The work from home privileged group – from more to even more

The remote workplace has shifted even further in the five weeks between our April 2nd and May 14th surveys, especially for higher socioeconomic groups. Overall, the work-at-home rate grew somewhat from just over half (54%) to 60% of American employees.

Two measures of socioeconomic status – educational attainment and household income – are positively associated with the fastest-growing groups to work at home. The rates of post-graduate employees working at home has grown from 80% to 93% Also, adults in households with incomes of $85,000 or higher have risen slightly from two-thirds (67%) to 71%.

Adults in homes with children have also grown in their work-at-home rates, rising from two-thirds (67%) to 77%.

Technology usage shifts among the work-at-homes

PC use is dramatically different among American employees working from home than those not working from home. Among employees working from home, the mean number of weekly hours is 58.3, substantially more than those not working from home, 22.2 hours per week. A PC is necessary for many work-related tasks, from spreadsheets to collaborative documents.

One of the fastest growing activities – video conferencing – is possible with a smartphone. Despite this, smartphone hours are not measurably higher among those working from home than those not working from home.

Looking ahead

The underlying socioeconomic differences we have seen exposed so far in the pandemic are unlikely to change. They are systemic and have been in place for generations. Further reinforcing these persistent differences, technology has enabled many employees to work from home, although primarily those upper socioeconomic groups. These differences will further separate the haves from the have-nots.

One major technological shift has been around the adoption of videoconferencing. As I have reported in other MetaFacts Pulse surveys earlier this year, groups from seniors to employees and parents have rapidly adopted video conferencing for both personal and work-related calls and conferences. These groups have not been quite as quick to adopt any new technology they had never used. Instead, most are using whatever technology they already had in place, such as a home PC. There has been some supplementing of in-home technology with better webcams and other small peripherals. With economic insecurity both among employers and citizens, many have delayed making capital purchases. Very few employees, so far, have been assisted with employer-provided technology such as new PCs, printers, or VPNs.

There is still much uncertainty today about whether businesses will continue to allow employees to work from home after such time governmental health authorities say it is safe to have workers return their previous workplaces.

Within three years, presuming the virus is no longer causing a pandemic, I expect only half of today’s video users to be regularly doing this practice. That may seem like a dramatic drop. I expect a retreat from video as people spend time again at their workplaces or schools. They will be having in-person meetings again, taking the place of work video meetings. Or, many will be meeting in person with friends or family instead of making that FaceTime or Zoom call.

That will still leave a substantial number of people working remotely, collaborating electronically, and connecting through video calls or conferences. The genie is out of the bottle.

About this TUPdate

The information referred to in this special TUPdate is based on independent research conducted by MetaFacts.

This TUPdate included results from the May 14th, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Pulse adult survey.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Employees Pulse surveys may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Pulse surveys, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Market Research

Parents sharing their home technology – or not [TUPdate]

By Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 24, 2020

Busy parents are busier than ever

Parents are busier than ever with the many stay at home conditions and school closures across the US now.

Two days ago (April 22, 2020), we surveyed 322 online adults with children 18 or younger. We asked them about the computing devices in their homes, how they share them, what they plan to buy in the next few months, and how an additional home PC might affect their home.

Most parents say they have enough computing devices at home. Nearly two-thirds (61%) have as many or more PCs or tablets than people. Many parents said an additional personal PC is not really wanted, as most (35%) say it would make no difference and feel they have enough (12%).

Those few who would welcome a new home computer value several benefits. One-sixth (16%) expect more efficiency – getting more done with less effort, whether it is more schoolwork or for work from home. Almost as many (14%) expect they would have to share the PCs they have less often. They predict there would be fewer fights between their children. (and who wouldn’t appreciate that!).

Yours, mine, and mine

With the many PCs they have in their home, we asked how and if they share them amongst themselves.

More than half (55%) share PCs, with higher priority given to schoolwork (34%) and working from home (25%). Another half (48%) do not regularly share PCs.

So much to choose from

American parents have been the biggest buyers of home technology for the last three decades of tracking them as part of TUP/Technology User Profile. As of our April 22, 2020 survey, 61% of adults with children in the home have as many or more computing devices (desktops, notebooks, or tablets) than people in the home.

Although many of the reasons have shifted over the years, a common thread throughout this time has been caring for children’s education, household entertainment, communication (think email and social networking), and basics such as personal finances. More recently, with the COVID-19 crisis and so many parents staying at home with their kids, there is an enhanced need for many to support their children’s education with homeschooling. Plus, many are now working from home and so now content for the same devices.

Hey kids – be quiet!

Over the next 3 months, as many intend to buy a notebook PC as buy a tablet. Mobility is key, even if currently it means moving from room to room instead of traveling on a plane, train, or automobile.

Computing devices rank strongly, with 39% plan to buy at least one computing device, whether it is a notebook (21%), tablet (20%) or desktop (12%).

Considering planned items individually, managing sound is important while staying at home. Headsets/headphones top the list of planned items, at 34%. Although our survey did not specifically ask this question, having been a parent of teenagers, it is likely that not everyone in the house shares the same musical tastes, much less the same volume levels. Plus, many of the top over-the-ear headsets include noise-cancelling features that could come in handy for either children or their parents. Speakers are the 2nd-mentioned planned purchase, at 22%. These may be for those fortunate enough to have a living space with enough space or walls.

One in six parents (17%) cited their intention to buy a printer. That is not surprising, since in our previous TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey we measured printer penetration at 68% in the US, slightly down from prior years. Many new homeschoolers are undoubtedly realizing that a printer is vital for children’s homework, for creative projects, and for working from home.

Interestingly, among homes with children, the ones with strongest purchase plans overall are those that already have computing devices than people. There is a good amount of tech-accumulation in the works, especially among those with the most tech. So much for the tidying up and minimizing lessons of Marie Kondo.

About this TUPdate

MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US adults with children are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 22nd, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Parent Study, the first wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 322 online adults with children age 18 or younger in their home.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Parent Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Parent Study, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Desktops, Households, Market Research, Notebooks, Printers, Tablets, TUPdate

Working From Home With What You Have [TUPdate]

Two out of three employees suddenly working from home are not well-supported by their employers, at least not with their technology.

Among the largest US employers, 18.6 million employees working at home are doing so without a work PC. This is almost half (47%) of all US work-at-home employees without a work PC. Pre-pandemic, firms with 1,000 or more employees provided 20.6 million of their employees with at least one work desktop or notebook PC. This measure is based on our TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 wave with 3,935 employed respondents. As of April 15, 2015, 30.3 million online American employees are still working for these large companies with 1,000 or more employees. Of these, 11.7 million employees are working from home with a work PC.

Chart: US Employees working from home with and without an employer-provided PC by size of company

Most employees are effectively subsidizing their employers by using their own personal home PCs, tablets, or working at home without any computing device.

Large companies aren’t the only ones not supporting employees’ technology needs. Midsize companies have 13.6 million employees working at home without a work PC. Midsize companies (50 to 999 employees), have fewer employees in total (32.9 million nationwide) than large companies, of which 21.6 million were working from home as of April 15th, 2020.

Small companies, while smaller in total number, have the highest share of work-at-home employees without a work PC. Their 7.4 million work-at-home employees without a work PC are more than twice as many as their 3.1 million working at home with an employer-provided PC.

Looking Ahead

While employees are still employed and working at home, it’s important that they have the resources they need to get their work done. Employees who already had an employer-provided PC ostensibly need one while they’re working from home.

Larger firms are more likely to have IT/IS departments and computing infrastructure and support built around the physical workplace. Most smaller companies need the same capabilities and if they’re not in-house resources, then they rely on multitude of consultants and VARs/VADs. While remote workers are not a new phenomenon for employers of any size, hardly any were ready for the recent rapid shift due to the pandemic.

Long before the pandemic, employers have long relied on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where employees pay for many of their own devices – from PCs to smartphones. I expect the sudden work-at-home shift to inspire some employers to better provide for their employees. Besides building goodwill, this will benefit employers by having a more consistent set of configurations to manage which will, in turn, help employees to be more productive and will reduce employer’s support needs. However, based on experience, I expect inertia to continue – with most employers relying on employees to foot the bill for their at-home work technology and its support.

About this TUPdate

MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US employees by employer size are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents, of which 3,935 were employed full-time or part-time. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 15th, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Work From Home Study, the third weekly wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 396 employees working at home.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Work At Home Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Work At Home Study, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Market Research

MetaFacts work from home study – Highlights

This TUPdate investigates and profiles working Americans who are working from home. With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts taking place now, many are not technologically ready for a work-at-home or stay-at-home experience.

MetaFacts is conducting a series of surveys, with current waves conducted March 26-30, 2020, and April 8, 2020.

Here are some highlights from the study. Insights professionals with interest can learn more about obtaining the full results of the study by contacting MetaFacts.

The demographics of working from home

Working from home is in full swing for now. Although not all workers can or are working from home, those who are mostly use (not employer-provided) personal computing devices. They also favor consumer-oriented video communications platforms. Their purchase intentions are weak, and mostly focused on backfilling the basics needed for working from home.

Two-thirds (64%) of online Americans who are employed or self-employed were working at home on April 8, 2020.

There are many Americans who aren’t. One in eight (12%) who were employed in February 2020 are not currently working.

Of those working from home, most are in upper socioeconomic groups.

More than three-fourths (78%) of adults in households with income of $85,000 or more in the prior year are working from home. This is in stark contrast to the near-half levels among those with incomes of less than $50,000 per year.

Full-time employees and those who were already self-employed in a home-based business in February 2020 also had the highest work-at-home rates.

Computing Devices for Work

Most workers working from home are using their own personally-purchased products as their primary computing device. 58.2% of workers working from home as of April 8th, 2020 were using a personal device versus 41.8% who were using an employer-provided device.

Among Information Workers – those workers who were already using an employer-provided PC in February 2020 – 39.7% are using a personal device as their primary computing device for work.

Working from home means a mobile device, even though due to stay-at-home restrictions mobile tech workers can’t bring them to coffee cafés. Working from home is a new experience for many, and most homes don’t have a dedicated workspace, much less a dedicated desk for the new work-at-home worker. So, portability even with a home is helpful. Mobile devices – notebook PCs – are the primary computing device for Americans working as of April 8, 2020.

Video calling and conferencing by those working at home

Zoom has earned a lot of attention and users during the pandemic as a popular option for anyone online working at home seeking to connect by video with friends and family, as well as with coworkers and customers. Among workers working at home, Zoom is used most widely for work video calls and video conferences. Apple’s FaceTime is most widely used for personal video calls. For personal video conferences, Skype is slightly ahead of Zoom. For personal video calls, Apple’s FaceTime leads.

More broadly, Microsoft’s, Google’s, and Facebook’s combined video communications platforms reach the greatest share of at-home workers. Microsoft’s offerings – Skype, Meet Now, or Teams – taken together are used by the most at-home workers, slightly ahead of Google’s set of offerings – Hangouts, Duo or Meet. Facebook’s set are mostly used for personal video conferences or calls.

Planned Purchases

When we asked workers about their purchase plans for the next three months, no single technology was mentioned among one-tenth of workers.

Nearly as many workers have plans for tech products or services they will purchase with their own funds as expect to have bought by their employers.

Workers expect their employers to acquire collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or even cloud-based collaboration tools. Workers also anticipate their employers to set up VPNs-Virtual Private Networks to help maintain the security of their communication with their workplace networks or computers. Third on most worker’s list are an extra monitor/display and a desk, both items widely found in many workplaces.

From their own personal funds, workers plan to purchase a notebook PC, webcam, and extra monitor/display. (Presumably if their employer doesn’t come through). Other basics for replicating a work-at-home office include a headset or headphones, tablet (perhaps for working from the couch?), speakers, a chair, and a desk.

Employment and non-employment by demographics

Between February 2020 and April 8, 2020 (the date of this survey), the number of employed Americans dropped precipitously. Nationally, 88% of online adult Americans that were employed in February were still working by April 8, 2020, meaning that 12% were not. This share is generally in line with unemployment claims reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both time periods include those working full-time, part-time, or self-employed.

The demographics about who was and was not still working shows a wide variation. Generally, fewer lower-income, part-time, and lesser-skilled workers are still working than were working in February.

The pandemic has currently affected some regions more than others. There are also regional differences in stay-at-home orders, those deemed essential, and those affected by business closures or layoffs. Among the major states, New York has the highest national percentage of non-workers, followed by New Jersey and California.

Occupation and working from home

Change in Employment from February to March 2020, by Occupation

Educational attainment and working from home

Primary Work Computing Device – February and March 2020

In February 2020, which computing device did you use as your primary work device?

While working at home, what is your primary computing device?

Benefits of working from home

What’s Best About Working From Home?

Age of workers working from home

Household size for Americans working from home

Home Delivery Services for workers working at home

Definitions of terms used in this analysis

  • April 8 Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed on April 8, 2020
  • March Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed during March 2020
  • February Workers – working full-time, part-time, or self-employed during February 2020
  • Work from home – working from home as of the fielding date of the wave
  • Information workers – having had an employer-provided desktop PC in February 2020

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from a MetaFacts survey conducted March 26-30, 2020 with 772 online adults, and conducted April 8, 2020 with 530 online adults, drawn to be representative of American online adults who were working full-time, part-time, or self-employed in February 2020.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Consumer research, Households, Market Research, TUPdate, Video calling

Work from home or stay at home – ready or not! (and supported or not) [TUPdate]

As a long-time information worker, remote worker, and road warrior, I’ve learned to be flexible, resourceful, and use technology to my advantage. Whether I’ve been crunching numbers or presenting results from a café in Paris, my office, home, or somewhere in between, I’ve carried an evolving assortment of tech devices so I can stay connected and work.

However, there are many people who haven’t had this experience, and may not be prepared or supported.

This TUPdate investigates several groups of consumers and workers who will soon be encountering changes in their use of technology devices and services. With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts taking place now, many are not technologically ready for a work-at-home or stay-at-home experience.

Although a home PC isn’t a requirement to get online, it’s still the most widely used and most-useful device for many activities.Chart comparing work activities by device type

Among one key group – information workers – one of the most tech-savvy and tech-reliant groups, a work PC is the cornerstone of their work activity. Even though most also have smartphones, home PCs, and tablets, there are only a few work activities done more often on any other type of device. Smartphones, despite the many apps developed for them and their constant presence, only surpass work PCs for making phone and video calls. Tablets, which are increasingly becoming PC-like (and not only because of Apple’s marketing), aren’t being used similarly to PCs for work activities.

Information workers are only one of several groups to stand out as not having home PCs and being the most able to benefit from them. For this analysis, I’ve used TUP/Technology User Profile to look at three groups:

  • Information workers – workers who have a work PC
  • Adult students – attending a college, university, or other learning institution full-time or part-time
  • Elders – age 55 or older

Information workers

Information workers as a group are the least ready to be working remotely. While some employers provide work notebooks that could potentially be used at home, most don’t. Forty percent of US information workers and 58% of German information workers are self-supported, having no work notebook but having a home PC. Even higher, 54% of US information workers and 65% of German information workers are unsupported information workers, having no work notebook.Size of key groups working or staying at home

While it’s possible that some employers will simply have employees bring their work desktops home for the duration of their time working at home, I expect that not to be widespread.

Students

A smaller share of students than information workers have no home PC. Among American students, this share (29%) is larger than among students in Germany. Although some assignments and online classes and may be conducted using a smartphone or tablet, I expect many will require the larger screens or horsepower of a PC. Tablets aren’t an immediate answer at hand: only 26% of students without home PCs use a tablet.

Elders

Elders are another group likely to remain at home. Although there are regional differences about the age level of persons mandated to remain at home, those requirements are changing quickly. For this analysis, I set the bar low for typical definitions of being an elder or senior – at 55 or older.

Within elders, I also investigated a particularly vulnerable group – elders living alone. This group is one of the most connected groups of all these groups, at least with respect to the penetration of home PCs. Only 5% of American elders and 2% of German elders don’t have a home PC.

Looking ahead

The conditions for COVID-19 pandemic are uncertain. I expect most employers to support their information workers with additional technology, even though historically that’s only been the case for the minority of employers.

For self-supporting information workers that already have a home PC, this employer support is most likely to come in the form of expanded software licensing to support employees that need special software to get their job done, and remote access software to allow employees to reach their office-located desktops, servers, or networks. In many cases, especially among larger employers or technically sophisticated employers, new support will include the requisite VPN and security software to help protect the employer’s confidential information. For those self-supporting information workers with home PCs that are too old or underpowered to support the employee’s needs, some employers may order and provide work PCs for their employee’s homes. Other employers may rely on the employees to personally obtain a home PC so the employee can continue to work.

For unsupported information workers that don’t have a home PC, I expect most employers to provide a work PC or to encourage or to reimburse their employees for a home PC. As for self-supporting information workers, additional software, connectivity, and likely printing capabilities will be needed as well.

This is a quickly changing time, and it’s currently unknown how long the stay-at-home/work-from-home provisions will remain in place. However, over the last two decades, technology users have shown a strong amount of habit energy and inertial. What they do with technology changes slowly, even while there are rapid shifts in the devices and services they use – and where they use them!

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Basic cell phones, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling