New Home Workers Use More Digital, Less TV

(Image credit: Nielsen)

People who started working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic spend less time with live and time-shifted TV and more time with digital than people who were in home offices before the crisis, according to a new study from Nielsen.

With more people working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, media habits are changing, and Nielsen decided to put together a special work from home edition of its periodic Total Audience Report.

In a survey of 1,000 adults 66% said they started working from home full-time because of the virus.

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Nielsen found that traditional work-from-home employees spent 3 hours and 39 minutes with live and time shifted TV, 1:09 with TV connected devices and 5:38 with digital media. People who are working from home since COVID spend 3:05 with live and time shifted TV, 1:18 on CTV and 5:44 on digital.

“Brands and agencies looking to reach either work from home group have an impetus to reach these consumers where they work, literally, via their digital marketing strategies,” the report said.

During working hours, 40% of those surveyed said they listened to music every day, either on radio or via streaming services, which compares with 33% who say they watch TV or stream content during breaks and 29% who watch TV while working and 25% who say they watch TV, but without sound, while working.

When they’re watching while working from home, 47% said they watch news, 40% comedy, 36% movies, 30% drama, 24% sports and 21% short-form videos and clips. Of those watching news, 64% viewed local news, 62% had national cable news on and 58% watched national broadcast news.

“COVID-19, cultural and civil unrest and continued evolution in the media landscape have altered all aspects of our everyday lives. The way we shop for groceries, receive medical care— even how we see each other—have all been upended. Many changes won’t be temporary, and this disruption will breed a slew of transformations that are here to stay, many of which are already evident,” said Peter Katsingris, senior VP, audience insights at Nielsen. “Amid all the change, however, none is bigger than how many of us work—and that change may be more long-lasting than we originally expected.”

Despite the potential out of office distraction, 39% of those who started working from home since the Coronavirus outbreak, 39% said they’re more productive working from home, 28% said they were more productive at work and 33% said it was about the same.

Among those who worked from home before the crisis, 60% said they were more productive working from home, 11% said they were more productive at the office and 29% said it was about the same.

People who thought they were more productive at home said it was easier to have a work-life balance that way, that there were fewer distractions and they didn’t have to worry about commuting. 

Among those who felt they were less productive at home, 47% said there were too many distractions, 41% said their job wasn’t intended as a WFH job and 38% said they were more productive surrounded by co-workers. Others said they have responsibilities for children, parents and pets, a lack of office space at home and a lack of technology or technical know how.

Working from home has a big effect on people’s morning routines, with 54% saying they get up later in the morning. 

Nearly half of those studied also said they go to bed later now that they work from home.

“Of course, not having to worry (as much) about wardrobe and styling decisions helps maximize time, as does not schlepping into the office during a commute, so it is important programmers, brands and marketers to note that this free time is often spent consuming additional media, whether it’s streaming the latest TV series, listening to music or browsing the web,” the report said.

Most importantly, consumers want to have a choice between working from home and working at an office. 

“To put it simply, consumers are hooked on choice and now want the liberty to choose what location is best-suited for them. In fact, 52% of work-from-home employees think they should have the ability to do so moving forward, and of those a whopping 80% would prefer to work for a company that gives them the freedom to work remotely from a location of their choosing, regardless of where their office is,” the report said.

“Our research highlights just how quickly Americans have adapted and now want to work remotely, largely due to the flexibility it affords,” Katsingris said. “Small to big businesses all stand to win if they are agile enough to meet consumer demand, identify implications and understand the marketing challenges and rewards of these habitual and geographic changes we are only beginning to uncover.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.