Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of Americans say that staying in their PJs all day and commuting from their home office to their kitchen is a great substitute to the pre-corona workday.

COVID-19 has experts from all industries conducting polls and surveys to understand how the virus is impacting our day-to-day lives. One research study conducted by the States of Play, a joint CNBC/Change Research survey of swing states, takes a look at how the pandemic has changed the workday. Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of Americans surveyed share that staying in their PJs all day and commuting from their home office to their kitchen is a great substitute to the pre-corona workday. 

Taken April 17–18, the research survey poll sampled a group of 5,787 workers across six states. The survey comes with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.3 percentage points.

What the Data Says

woman working smiling

Of the participants surveyed, there was a significant increase in the number of people who work from home. Before the coronavirus shut down states across America, only 9 percent of those surveyed worked from home. During the pandemic, however, that number rose to a whopping 42 percent. But what’s more curious is the number of people who preferred it that way. Here are some of the highlights from the study: 

  • 14 percent say they are working from home more than before, while 19 percent are working from home for the first time.
  • 58 percent report they are still working outside the home.
  • 24 percent would like to work either entirely or more from home once the economy opens. 
  • 55 percent plan to head back to the office once the economy reopens. 
  • 20 percent are not sure what they would prefer once the economy reopens.

How Does Your Annual Income Impact Your Ability to Work From Home?

Interestingly enough, the data also shows that income levels play a key role in a person’s ability to work from home. 

  • 24 percent of individuals making under $50,000 a year are working from home. 
  • 36 percent of individuals earning in the middle range, from $50,000 to $100,000 a year, are working from home. 
  • 46 percent of individuals making over $100,000 a year are working from home. 

The statistics on who will have the opportunity to work from home highlight the extreme gap that exists between higher-income workers and lower-income workers. Individuals who earn less than $50,000 can often be classified as blue-collar workers. These are individuals who work jobs that require manual and physical labor. 

The drawback is that during this pandemic, the essential businesses that remain open are the same ones that pay lower wages. Therefore, it should not be surprising that there are fewer individuals who are able to work from home when they are in a profession that requires them to be out in public. After all, a grocery store attendant can’t exactly "work from home."

Individuals who have higher annual earning have a higher chance of being able to work from home. These are your white-collar workers, including individuals in the IT industry, administrative roles, managers, and bookkeepers. The duties of these positions tend to be easier to relocate from a traditional workplace environment to a work-from-home environment.

While the facts are unsurprising, the reality is rather disappointing. Those who are deemed essential and are continuing to go out into the public every day and risk their lives to keep the country operating are often not receiving compensation that reflects that. 

What This Means in Term of Productivity

man sitting on couch

Among those polled, 60 percent of workers share that they are being productive or more productive than they would be had they gone into work. This is interesting because societal demands can put people who work from home on extreme sides of the productivity spectrum. 

For parents who have children, the ability to focus on your work can be difficult and short of impossible. The demands of child supervision, especially with younger children, can keep workers distracted and off-task when they need to be working. This is especially strenuous when child care supports that were in place are no longer available because of mandated stay at home orders. 

Some parents have the ability to work in shifts and isolate themselves in different parts of the house while the other parent occupies the children. But even this requires a great deal of concentration. 

Then again, when you compare productivity levels of working from home with productivity levels of working in the office, is there all that much of a difference? In a workplace study done by the Behavioral Science and Policy Association, researchers found that the average American worker spends less than three hours of their workday being productive. 

What Are Remote Workers Doing With the Extra Time? 

The increase in employees working from home has left more room in the day that would have otherwise been spent sitting in traffic as they commute to and from home. So what are workers doing with that extra time? Here's what the data says: 

  • 47 percent are spending time with family
  • 44 percent are relaxing
  • 33 percent are spending time on a hobby or entertainment
  • 36 percent are sleeping
  • 28 percent are working more

The majority of those polled indicated an increase in the amount of time spent with family and relaxing. This is certainly something to pay attention to because in the current workplace climate, you will not find a shortage of workers who say they do not have enough time to spend with their family. 

And with the demanding work that America is known for when compared to other countries around the world, weekends are usually reserved for recouping instead of relaxing and spending time on hobbies or other interests.

What do you think? Are you working from home for the first time? Are you excited to return to the office or advocating for more "wfh" opportunities? Do you feel you're more productive or less productive at home? Tell us in the comments!