A new survey released today by Chubb finds that Americans working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic are remaining productive, working the same or more hours and are staying connected with family and friends. When the pandemic subsides, a significant majority (74%) want to work from home more frequently than in the past. But the Chubb survey also finds signs of strain as Americans struggle to find the right work/life balance in a work-from-home environment. Many Americans are snacking, drinking and eating more. Cyber attacks are a real risk, particularly for the wealthy. Physical pain in wrists, backs and shoulders has increased, potentially from poor ergonomics in home workstations. Concerns about financial well-being are high among respondents at all income levels.
The Chubb survey, entitled Resilient, Committed, Engaged and Worried: The Experiences and Risks of Americans Working from Home During COVID–19, polled 1,202 Americans, aged 20 to 65 years of age, who started working remotely as a result of COVID-19.
Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, wanted to gauge how American workers fared when their home became their workplace, including their experiences, productivity, work/life balance, changes in lifestyle and perceptions of risk.
“The survey results tell a story about American workers who proved to be remarkably adaptable, resilient and committed to their work and their family and friends in a work from home environment,” said Sean Ringsted, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Risk Officer at Chubb. “At the same time, there are strains in managing the balance between work and family, such as dealing with distractions from family members and keeping a separation between work and family activities. We also found a disconnect between behavior and risk in two important areas. A majority of respondents shrug off concerns about being the target of a cyber attack while working remotely, and nearly half are using personal devices or email accounts to conduct business. And while 41% of those working from home are experiencing new or elevated pain in their back, wrists or shoulders, an even larger percentage haven’t taken any steps to improve the ergonomics of their work space at home. By sharing the findings of this survey, we hope to build awareness so that workers and their employers can take steps to mitigate these and other risks.”
Among the key findings of the survey:
High-Level concerns about financial well-being: Nearly seven in 10 Americans (68%) said they were concerned about the financial well–being of themselves and their families. This level of concern was common among both genders and all income groups and ages.
Productivity and hours worked are up for many: More than one–third of Americans working from home (37%) report being more productive, and another third say their productivity is equal to what they achieve outside the home. Americans are also keeping focused on their jobs. An overwhelming majority — 83% — are working the same or more hours at home compared to the office. More than one–third (37%) are working longer hours, including 17% who are working more than 10 extra hours per week.
Maintaining work/life balance while working from home isn’t easy: Two thirds (65%) say they are maintaining regular working hours, and half are scheduling breaks from work. At the same time, nearly 60% report that distractions from family, housemates or pets sometimes make it difficult to work from home. Just 38% of respondents say they are setting aside time for family. A minority of workers (43%) say they are successful in keeping a separation between work and family activities.
Working from home and social distancing hasn’t prevented Americans from staying connected: Among the most interesting and arguably surprising findings from the survey is the degree to which Americans working from home are staying connected and socializing with friends, coworkers and family. Four out of five (79%) report having the same or more contact with friends. That includes 25% who say they are talking with friends more while working from home.
Working from home greatly increases the risk of cyber attacks — and most workers aren’t concerned about it: As Americans shifted to working from home in vast numbers, cyber security experts, including those at Chubb, have warned of elevated risks of cyber attacks in a work from home environment. Yet less than half of consumers (46%) said they were concerned about cyber security while using tools to work remotely. Nearly half (49%) say they regularly or sometimes conduct business on personal devices or their personal email account.
About one in 10 wealthy respondents have been the victim of a cyber attack while working remotely: The number of wealthy survey respondents who have been the victim of a cyber attack while working from home is notable: about one in ten. Among all respondents, 3% have experienced a cyber attack while working remotely.
Workers are feeling the pain of working at home: More than two out of five Americans working from home report feeling new or increased pain in their shoulders, back or wrists since they started working from home. Younger workers were much more likely than older workers to experience this pain and discomfort. Half of those aged 20–35 reported such pain. Among those aged 56 to 65, it was 28%.
Lifestyle changes: Working from home hasn’t stopped Americans from doing things they enjoy, including watching TV (56% are watching more); exercising (82% are exercising the same or more while working from home); reading (34% are reading more); and playing video games (56% kept up their level of video game playing with another 23% playing more).
Appetites are up at home: Significant numbers of workers are eating more, snacking more and drinking more. Some 92% report they are snacking as much or more while working from home; 42% say they are snacking more. One thing Americans working at home have not been doing much of is dieting: only one in 20 (5%) reported eating less while working from home. In fact, more than one–third (36%) say they are eating more at home. Women are slightly more likely to report eating more than men. About half of working-from-home Americans say their consumption of alcohol hasn’t changed. But more than one in four (26%) say they are drinking more, a higher rate than the 23% who say they’ve cut back on their drinking. Drinking more seems to be correlated with age: drinking is up among 34% of those aged 20–35 but only up 15% among 56–65 year-olds.
The Chubb survey report, which can be accessed here, includes additional information about risks related to cyber security and ergonomics, as well as some tips on maintaining strong mental health and emotional resilience.
The current research was conducted by Dynata, a leading global provider of first–party consumer and professional data. The survey was fielded between May 26 and June 4, 2020. In order to qualify, respondents were screened to be residents of the United States, 20 to 65 years of age, and currently employed with a minimum household income of $50,000. In addition, respondents must have started working remotely as a result of COVID–19. Retirees, unemployed and furloughed employees are excluded from the current research. The margin of error is +/– 3%.
Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London, Paris and other locations, and employs approximately 33,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: chubb.com.