Tag Archives: Activities

Work-life balance – back to the future or the past? [TUPdate]

Progress toward work-life separation, until sudden integration

I will admit to having recently used more than one cliché about these being “unprecedented times” or even that we’re headed towards a “new normal”.

When it comes to work-life balance, what was “normal” is all-too “precedented”. For years, PCs have enabled American employees to bring work home. Enabling is not always a positive characteristic, depending on one’s perspective. No sooner had employees scaled down their work at home, minimizing their commingled work and personal activities, then along came COVID-19.

Employees using Home PCs for work – a recent history

For decades, employees have slowly separating their personal and work lives. Step by step, application by application, employees had been using their home PCs for fewer and fewer work-related tasks. In the MetaFacts 2015 wave of TUP/Technology User Profile, we found that one in three US employees regularly used their home PCs for work email, one in five to search for work-related financial or other information, and one in six to manage work appointments or share files. By our 2019 wave, we found that home PC usage levels for these work activities had dropped to around two-thirds of these levels.

Now that six in ten US employees are working from home, and with almost half (49%) using a home-owned PC, their home PC is getting a lot of work-related use.

In addition to the work activities employees had been avoiding on their home PC, the home or work PC employees are using at home to work is being utilized for an even wider range of activities than before. Well beyond checking work emails, employee communications have broadened well beyond emails to include video calls, group video meetings, and group chats.

Also, more than ever before, there is currently deeper collaboration through shared cloud storage systems and platforms.

The work-life balance challenge made more visible

With so many working from home, the work-life balance challenge is more visible. Six out of ten US employees are working from home and not going to a workplace, a rate we found remained effectively stable in each of our May 7th (61%), April 15th (59%) and earlier April 8th (61%) and MetaFacts Pulse survey waves that included this question.

Interestingly, how employees use their work-from-home PC is different from how they recently used their employer-provided work PC. Employees are spending less time in face-to-time meetings and using their PCs as a focal communicating point to get things done.

Less than a year ago, in our MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 wave, we found employees used their work PCs to do similar activities as we found in our May 7th MetaFacts Pulse survey, although to a greater extent. Employees are using their work-at-home PCs more intensively than they had been using their work PCs. For every type of work-related or personal activities, a higher share of employees is doing the activity than before.

The active life of the work-at-home PC

Among employees working from home in May, 84% are using a PC, whether owned by their employer (35%) or themselves (49%). Their work-related activities are strongly intermixed with their personal activities, except for personal activities with a work PC. Many employers that provide PCs, especially larger employers, lock down the capabilities of the work PC to restrict its use to certain work apps or activities. Also, employees have learned to separate their personal communication activities onto other platforms, especially to use their smartphones.

American workers choose different video platforms for video calls than meetings, and for personal versus work-related matters

US employees have continued to have work meetings – essentially moving from face-to-face meetings to video platforms. With widespread stay-at-home orders in place, video platforms for calls as well as for group meetings have grown in use among employees as well as the general online public, and for personal as well as work-related matters.

However, there is no one single dominant platform for all subjects and numbers of participants. The closest thing to a dominant platform is Zoom, with Skype in the wings. Zoom and Skype are in the top-ranked platforms for both personal and work matters, as well as for calls and multi-person meetings.

Consumer-focused WhatsApp is top-ranked for personal use and among the main platforms being used for work video conferences, likely a surprise to many company’s IT/IS managers.

Corporate-oriented Microsoft Teams and WebEx are ranked within work-related calls and conferences.

Fewer video conferencing platforms for work than for personal

There appear to be more standards in place for work-related videoconferences. While the mean number of platforms in use is close to 3 for personal calls and conferences, as well as for work-related video calls, the mean is closer to 2 platforms for work video conferencing platforms.

Today’s long tail for work video conferencing platforms

The largest number of American workers (37%) use only one video conferencing platform for work-related issues. The rest (63%) are juggling many. This reflects the current state of confusion following the rapid move to working at home. Employers are likely to reduce the number of platforms used, at least within their companies. Standardization helps employees to be more efficient, and can also help employers to strike more favorable pricing with platform providers. However, many outward-facing employees have the same challenge as consumers – finding a common platform when communicating with others who have their own different standards.

About this TUPdate

The information referred to in this special TUPdate is based on independent research conducted by MetaFacts: three waves of MetaFacts Pulse surveys and two waves of TUP/Technology User Profile.

The projections of total US employees are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents and the TUP/Technology User Profile 2015 wave conducted among 2,896 employed respondents. Also, this TUPdate included results from the May 7th, April 15th, and April 8th, 2020 waves of the MetaFacts Pulse Employee 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.

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Filed under Cloud Storage, Communication, TUP 2015, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

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.

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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

Home PC Trends – Highlights from TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 – US

Home PCs are very much alive and being well-used. Home PC usage rates are stable, both in overall penetration and in the number being used.

Nearly all online American adults regularly use a home PC, yet they see them differently. Younger Americans see them as adding to their entertainment, while for older adults it helps them get things done, communicate, and shop. Home PCs have evolved from being a primary focus of American technology life to being one of many devices. Usage patterns and form factor choices vary; by user age, household composition, choice of OS ecosystems, and other factors.

This MetaFacts Highlights Report looks at the major trends in home PC usage in the US and examines how users have changed in both their levels of home PC use and activities. Also, it examines PC trends with respect to the broadened use of alternative devices. Further, it investigates differences by user age, presence of children, OS of other devices, and other factors.

The source for this analysis is MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, with results from waves 2019 and earlier, all based on surveys of from 7,326 to 8,060 online adults in the US.

Highlights Report Contents

  • Home PC Penetration
  • Number of Home PCs
  • Number of Home PCs in use by User Age Group
  • Average Age of US Home PCs
  • Age of Home PC by User Age
  • Top 10 Activities for Home PCs
  • Top 10 Activities for Smartphones
  • Main Activity Gaps and Overlaps on Home PCs and Smartphones
  • Age-Skewed Home PC Activities
  • Number of Home PCs and Presence of Children
  • Smartphone, Home PC, and Tablet use by User Age Group
  • Home PC Operating Systems
  • Home PC Form Factors by Brand
  • Home PC Form Factor by User Age Group
  • Home PC OS Ecosystems of Connected Devices
  • Average Age of Home PCs by Brand
  • Home PC Activities by Brand
  • Number of Home PCs by Brand
  • What’s Ahead for Home PCs

How to obtain the results

  • Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile may request the full Highlights Report, supporting TUP information used for this analysis, or even deeper analysis
  • For example, clients may request similar results outside the US, or within your chosen market subset
  • For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts
Activities for Smartphones and Home PCs – identifying gaps and overlaps

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Desktops, Entertainment, Households, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUP Highlights Report, TUPdate

Game-Playing Trends – Convenience Gamers, Dedicated Gamers, and Device-Gamers [TUPdate]

Overview

Playing games is a regular activity for most adults whether using game consoles or gaming PCs, or any of their connected devices – mobile phones, tablets, or PCs.

Convenience Gamers – those using only a connected device to play games – has near-equal market penetration to Dedicated Gamers – users of game consoles or gaming PCs.

Device-Gamers – who use any of their connected devices – is a larger segment than either Dedicated Gamers or Convenience Gamers.

This TUPdate looks at the major trends of game-playing in the US and other countries, focusing on Convenience Gamers – the next tier of game-players beyond Dedicated Gamers. Also, it examines which types of devices are used the most or least for playing games. Further, it investigates whether younger adults play more or less than older ones, and differences in digital media use and subscriptions.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the 2019 wave of TUP (Technology User Profile), which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. Results from previous waves are also included where indicated. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Questions?

Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For example, clients may request similar results outside the US, or within your chosen market subset. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Consumer research, Desktops, Entertainment, Game Consoles, Market Research, Multiple Devices, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, Trends, TUP 2019, TUPdate

The Persistent PC – With A Perennial Core [TUPdate]

Americans continue to hang on to PCs as they expand their collection of actively connected devices. Instead of Tablets and Smartphones fully replacing PCs, they have added to the mix. Even so, the most-dedicated core of PC has settled to a stable size following the shift.

This is based on the MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile study waves from 2009 through 2018, collectively based on research results from 77,847 respondents.

The PC-intensive have shrunk in numbers over the years, establishing a solid minority. The most intensive – Adults with more PCs than people in their household – has coalesced into a core 10% of American adults. Moderate-intensity users – those with as many PCs in use as persons in their household – have been stable over the last decade in representing around one in four adults. In 2018, 22% of online Americans had as many PCs as people in their household.

The drive to mobility has finished making its impact. The transition to notebooks over desktops peaked in 2012, while smartphones, and tablets to some extent, diminished the need for many adults to be using more than one PC. As the lines continue to be blurred between tablets and PCs, and in other ways smartphones and tablets, users will increasingly focus on their activities. Rather than looking at devices first, users will make choices based on what it will take for them to get done that which they want to do.

Profile of the many-PC users

Adults with many PCs are generally younger than average and with a higher socioeconomic status. Almost two-thirds (65%) of adults actively using 3 or more PCs are college graduates, in contrast to 44% of online adults nationwide. Most (86%) are employed or self-employed, versus 61% nationwide. Over half (52%) are millennials (age 22-37/born 1981-1996) versus making up 34% of online adults nationwide. Also, 59% have annual household incomes of $75,000 or more (versus 38% nationwide) and over half (56%) have children in the households (versus 37% nationwide).

More adults who rely on a single PC choose HP. HP’s home PC share of the installed base among those adults using only one PC is 31%, followed by Dell’s share of 25%.

Looking Ahead

PCs are a present and vital part of the online user’s experience. This is likely to continue well into the future, although the definition of a PC is continuing to evolve. Users have expanded their activities across their many and multiple devices, broadly accepting multi-platform software supported by cloud storage. From tablets adding capabilities traditionally the province of PCs and notebooks adding abilities previously limited to smartphones or tablets, the definitions of device types is shifting. However, users continue to embrace change, shifting their device usage patterns more slowly than they discontinue their older devices. HP and Dell have strong brand share and inertia, and yet face strong challenges ahead as users shift from doing what they’ve done with PCs, and increasingly embrace multiple devices and platforms.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2018 edition which is TUP’s 36th 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.

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Consumer research, Devices, Households, Market Research, Market Sizing, Mobile Phones, Multiple Devices, Multiple-PC Household, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2018, TUPdate