During the lockdown more people than ever are working from home. This is what working from home looks like according to Google.
With global lockdowns taking place over the last two months, more people than ever are working from home.
While remote and flexible working is the standard for some people and industries, never before have we seen such a mass of people shift to working from home, including those in industries who never deemed it would be possible for them to work from home.
With only key workers now heading out to work, while the rest of us perch up on our makeshift desks, dining tables – and maybe even beds – workers around the world are adjusting to a new normal. Though it’s becoming hard to remember a time when we didn’t have a Zoom call scheduled in.
With so much uncertainty and worry to deal with at the moment, we decided to conduct some lighthearted research to brighten up everyone’s work from home day a little bit, with a glimpse into what working from home looks like according to Google.
We analysed Google Trends data to find out what people have been searching for and about while working from home.
“Working from home”
Firstly, the search phrase “working from home” itself saw a huge spike between 15-21 March. At this date some countries including Italy, Switzerland and Spain were already in lockdown with many others starting to prepare for the eventuality. Here in the UK official lockdown came into place on 23rd March, though many quick-to-react companies had already put into place work from home measures prior to that.
The two countries globally which have shown the highest increase in search interest for the phrase “working from home” are Australia and Ireland.
Most popular ‘working from home’ search terms
Below is a list of search terms directly related to “working from home” which have been rising in volume over the last 90 days:
Working from home tips
How to be productive working from home
Working from home best practices
Working from home with kids
Working from home ergonomics
Working from home jokes
Working from home GIF
Working from home video funny
Meme working from home
Some key themes arise from these – the best way to be effective working from home; the practicalities of working from home, and funny communications about working from home.
Searches around “working from home tips”, “how to be productive working from home”, and “working from home best practices” all saw a huge spike through March compared to the previous 12 months.
In the chart above you can see how “working from home tips” experienced a massive peak in search volume between 15-21 March. With many people starting to work from home for the first time ever during this period, it’s clear why searches for tips on how to do this effectively increased during this time. As people have started adjusting to their new working from home schedule the volume for this phrase has started to drop again.
Even for those who may often work from home, the new work from home routine presented a range of new challenges for everyone. While some people may work from home regularly, the thought of working from home every day would have had even those people thinking about their working from home ergonomics, which is why this phrase saw a huge surge between 29th March-4th April as people started to worry about their at home desk set-up and posture during this indefinite period of working from home.
Another new factor to consider was the fact that schools and nurseries were closed, meaning many employees are now juggling working from home alongside looking after their kids, which explains the huge jump for the phrase “working from home with kids” which peaked between 15-21 March.
The other common theme arising in the breakout search trends was funny GIFs, memes and videos about working from home – a clear indication that even in the toughest of times we all find some relief in a bit of laughter and sharing a relatable joke with others.
Other working from home search trends
As well as a rise in search terms directly related to working from home, search data also gives us an insight into other growing trends related to our new working from home lifestyle.
One of the biggest trends to come out of the increase in people working from home is undoubtedly video meetings. There are a host of video software options available, but the most popular option for businesses appears to be Zoom. With this in mind it’s no surprise to see the huge search volume increase for the phrase “zoom”, from almost non-existent over the last 12 months to peaking between 29th March-4th April.
The phrase “video meeting software” also saw an annual spike between 22-28 March – a fact which Zoom clearly caught on to.
With the ‘home office’ now just being ‘the office’ for most people, there has been a huge rise in people looking to kit out their home workplace in style.
That’s why there was a dramatic spike in search volume for “home office desk” between the 8-21 March, and why you may be struggling to find one now as many retailers have sold out.
The phrase “home office” also showed a global spike during 15-21 March, while search volume for “home decor” has also surged as people want to make the most of the place they are living and working out of 24/7.
That said, those people who haven’t been able to source a desk are considering whether working from bed is a viable option, with a clear surge in search volume for that phrase between 22-28 March.
Keeping Physically Healthy
Between those who are working from bed, those who are looking for a new desk and those who are searching for “working from home ergonomics” – everyone is a little bit concerned about how their work from home set up is affecting them physically.
After a few weeks of us all working from home, the search phrase “bad posture” has shown an increase in volume.
People are also searching for ways to keep themselves healthy while working from home – from increased search interest for “stretches” to those looking for “yoga at home” classes.
Learning and Development
When the working day is over with no after-work drinks, long commute, or gym class to head to, it seems many people are using this time to work on their professional learning and development.
Webinars have been popping up left, right and centre, and there’s clearly an appetite for them, with a spike in the search term “webinars” between 18-21 April.
There’s also been an increased interest in people searching for “motivation tips” and “learn a new skill”, while others have clearly been trying out new work strategies with an increase in people searching for the “pomodoro technique.”
What people are searching while working from home
As well as what people are searching for about working from home, we also looked into what people are searching for, most likely while working from home.
While the number of people working from home has increased, so has the search volume for “online games” and “quiz” – whether that’s people taking a “what kind of animal are you” personality quiz to while away the working day, or those searching for fun quiz questions for their work Zoom quiz.
There has also been a reprise in searches for the BBC moment in which a professor was interrupted by his two children as he was interviewed live on TV – a clip which we can all relate to right now, and which it seems we are searching for when we need a pick me up through the work from home day.
And what searches have been decreasing?
While there has been a broad range of new trends, questions and activities trending in relation to working from home, search data also gives us a clear indication of those topics which have completely slipped off the radar.
The biggest one of course being the daily commute. With most people’s morning commute now consisting of walking from their bed to the living room search volume for phrases including “traffic updates” and “train delays” have completely dropped off.
At least that’s one positive we can all take from this!
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