Verizon report: Only 25% of remote workers want to return to the office full time

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We now expect work and school flexibility, streaming and gaming, and convenient shopping, according to a new Verizon study.

Image: iStock/fizkes

Verizon’s Look Forward report, released Thursday, queried respondents on their predictions for the future and found that adults who worked remotely in the last year prefer to continue doing so or work in a hybrid situation. The study revealed the impact COVID-19 has had on American life a year after the pandemic began.

More than half of employed adults (54%) are working remotely, at least part of the time, nearly twice (28%) the amount who say they were doing so before the pandemic began.  Of those who worked at least partially remotely, seven in 10 said they’d like to be working remotely at least one to two days per week a year from now (69%), and only one in four hope to return to working in person full time (25%). 

Remote workers tend to be more mobile when working remotely (75%), and two in three plan to take advantage of remote work to travel or work from places other than their home when the pandemic subsides (67%). Network reliability is even more critical as workers become increasingly able to work from places other than home. 

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Verizon conducted the study with Morning Consult and found data that suggests permanent changes in the workplace, more desire for more streaming content, a return to phone calls, and a mix of online and in-store shopping.

“The pandemic has forced all of us to face challenges we never considered,” said Kyle Malady, chief technical officer at Verizon, in a press release. “A year into the pandemic, data usage on Verizon networks remains at almost 31% above pre-pandemic levels, a clear indicator that internet consumption and the acceleration of technology adoption are major byproducts of this moment. We’ve seen the shift to digital jump ahead five to seven years.” 

Americans grew accustomed to streaming in the long months of sheltering-at-home. Even though 62% subscribe to cable or satellite TV service, one in four said they’ve cut cable or satellite subscriptions. Traffic on major streaming sites is still 21% above pre-pandemic levels. Americans plan to spend more time getting their media fix from streaming (82%). One in five millennials (21%) said they never subscribed to cable or satellite and prefer to stream. Gen Z prefers to binge watch and will continue to stream.

Phone calls (instead of texting) are coming back. More adults (44%) are understanding the value of phone calls, and specifically video calls, to stay connected to friends and family; the most significant increase in usage pre- and during the pandemic, were voice calls. Verizon network data showed phone calls increase by 20%. Internet bandwidth was increased by 32% of respondents.

At the start of the pandemic, when much of the country was shuttered, most people turned to online shopping. But according to the Verizon study, adults (42%) anticipate that in a year they’ll split shopping equally between in-person and online. Pre-pandemic, shopping (60%) was “mostly in-person.”

Collaboration tools, such as Verizon’s video conferencing, is still 2,872% above pre-pandemic levels, and traffic across secure networks remains 91% higher than pre-pandemic volumes.

Parents are optimistic about their kids returning to the classroom next year, but everyone learned during the pandemic that there are other options for how children attend school. Seventy-seven percent said most children will attend school in person in a year, and 49% expect K-12 students will be offered an online option.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents expect K-12 to move classes online when the weather is inclement instead of canceling classes. Snow days “may soon be a relic of the past.”

Parents (72%) became more lenient with screen time during the pandemic, and most (57%) said they’ll continue when the pandemic ends.

Mobile gaming really took off during the pandemic, and 46% said they purchased or downloaded a mobile game at least once since the start of the pandemic, and 36% report doing the same for computer or console games. Nearly a third said they spend three or more hours a week playing on their mobile devices. 

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