What did we learn from remote working last year? Plenty, as it turns out.
We upped our tech game at home. Kind of.
We bought more equipment for our home studios and home offices. This correlates with increased video conferencing as well as the rise in podcasting that people and companies are venturing into. Microphone sales increased near the end of 2020 and are expected to continue to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% through 2025.
What were we buying for our home studios?
- Gaming headsets (hitting record levels)
- Soundproofing foam
- Everything by Apple (Macbook Pros, iMacs, iPhones, iPads, and Airpods, all hit record sales numbers)
What didn’t we buy?
- New desks and chairs (Haworth sales, for example, dropped from $2.25B in 2019 to $1.8B in 2020)
- Faster WIFI (Some states increased their WIFI speeds, but as a nation, home accounts did not)
- New PCs (sales dropped by 20 million units from 2015, however, this year looks to set records)
- Backup power systems
- VR headsets
Our priorities shifted.
Americans are generally criticized by other nations for one habit: we instantly ask others what they do for a living. Other nations don’t share that immediately. It’s not important. But Americans have, since the mid-20th Century, compared our worth by what job we hold. That too has changed quite a bit.
We’ve spent more time with our families, especially homes with children in school.
Homeschooling put many things into perspective for us and certainly made us appreciate teachers a lot more. As jobs became more flexible (and comfortable!) with remote working, employees and employers alike realized just how important work-life balance is.
We’ve all become virtual learners.
Many people have taken online courses or looked up how to do something on YouTube or Vimeo. Google said that between mid-March and mid-April 2020, searches for online courses spiked by 100%. Colleges across the nation are changing their curriculums to encourage more remote learning, and studies show again and again that students learn and retain better when there is an online component to their course.
We opened more emails. Wait, what?
As we worried about how companies handled the crisis, we opened the emails we signed up for. We wanted to know that things would be OK, desperate for any sign of normalcy. After a while, we started getting tired of every email starting with, “In these uncertain times…” but we continued to read more emails than ever before.
An email has something called an “open rate” which is simply the percentage of people who opened a given email. Open rates used to be low (A 20% open rate was considered amazing). According to Campaign Monitor, companies and government entities saw increases of up to 40% in their email open rates last year.
Technical challenges are completely forgivable.
In the pre-COVID world, lagging WIFI and needing to download video conferencing software were considered poor form. Not being dressed up on camera? People would talk about it after the meeting as if it were a career-ending move. And forget about your spouse or roommate showing up in the background!
Then COVID drove us into our basements and home offices and into the world of remote working. Suddenly everyone was forced into day-long Zoom meetings, incompatible home-schooling apps, and endless uploads to the cloud.
And having poor WIFI? Suddenly it wasn’t a big deal. Nor was being unshaven, not wearing makeup, not being 100% presentable on camera. We got used to seeing each other in pajamas. We know what each other’s homes look like. We know who has children and we forgive them for waving at everyone during work meetings. We hear sirens and noisy birds in the background, and put up with barking dogs, and lap cats. We see newscasters having the same technical struggles with no sound on live TV and don’t feel so bad.
In short, we learned to cut each other a break. In the next article, we will cover what it’s like to go back to the office.
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