Stay-at-home Workers: The Global Rise of Hybrid and Online Working from Home
Bill Dutton and Patricia Esteve-Gonzalez
The impact of lockdowns and working from home initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic has been substantial on such issues as who works from where. Our global survey of 7,330 respondents spread across 133 countries found that hybrid work and working from home (WFH) were the primary beneficiaries of a multitude of shifts across workplaces (see Figure).
WFH rose dramatically during the pandemic but did fall back after the pandemic. Nevertheless, home remained one of and maybe the primary locations of work. Office (or institution like a university) workplaces were the most dramatically hit by the pandemic, but these collocated sites for face-to-face communication have recovered since the pandemic to be close to WFH, with over 30 percent of respondents saying they work from an office.
In contrast, hybrid work (spreading work between in-person and online work) remained about the same during the pandemic as it did before the pandemic. However, this mode of work grew in the post-pandemic context. Once people experienced working from home, many wanted to sustain aspects of this approach.
Finally, decentralized workplaces, such as the use of shared office space closer to home but outside center cities, declined from a small percentage before the pandemic and remained depressed in the post pandemic context (Figure).
The big question raised by these findings is whether these snapshots will be sustained as time moves on? Will we revert to the old normal or truly remain in some new normal with more WFH? We hope to continue following these and other trends.
These findings are based on an exploratory study on cybersecurity across workplaces. The research team includes colleagues in the Global Cybersecurity Capacity Centre (GCSCC), in collaboration with a tech-enabled survey solution provider GrapeData. The survey data examined differences in cybersecurity issues across different workplaces, including shifts to and from working at home, the office, hybrid offices, and decentralised work centres over time. Joint with GrapeData, we launched a global online survey in June 2022, asking respondents about their workplaces and cybersecurity issues prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during the pandemic, and currently. The survey ran from mid-June to early September 2022, yielding responses from 7,330 internet users in the survey across 133 countries.
Rather than a random sample, the exploratory survey process enabled us to find those in work to identify possible patterns and trends. This blog is one of a series that will describe some of the initial descriptive results. Also, we are developing a report on this project and a set of more analytical studies exploring the multitude of factors shaping different patterns of working from various locations and their impact on cybersecurity problems. These include the roles of the kinds of work people do, differences across age and generations, and more. We will be posting more detailed information on the results of these analyses and exploring the potential for follow-on research to determine whether these trends continue, move back to the old normal, or remain in a more hybrid mode with more working from home.
Is the proverbial genie out of the bottle once people WFH? What difference will it make? Who are the workers experiencing more cybersecurity problems and have their changing workplaces had an impact on their security online?
An evolving set of descriptive results are available at: https://www.slideshare.net/WHDutton/25sep2022-wfh-slidespptx
Also, see an early paper from this project that focused on in-depth interviews on whether WFH is creating problems for cybersecurity or is enabled by advances in cybersecurity. The paper is available online at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3897380