Tag Archives: Telework

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

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.

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