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A new study from Deloitte, “2022 Connectivity and Mobile Trends,” shows that “the COVID-19 pandemic propelled U.S. households into an unprecedented societal beta test that accelerated emerging trends in technology and connectivity.” Almost overnight, adult workers and adult and child learners had to negotiate the transition of work and school from fully in-person to fully remote.

And while the previous year’s study showed there were many bumps and hiccups along the way, mostly due to trying to stretch physical space and digital bandwidth to meet the needs of multiple household members, this year’s study shows “consumers are gaining mastery over their digital lives, optimizing the devices they use, and fine-tuning the balance between their virtual and physical worlds.”

Remote workers like WFH

Almost all workers (99%) who had been working from home (WFH) said they “appreciated aspects of the experience.” The top three benefits they named were lack of commute, feeling more comfortable at home and reduced risk of contracting COVID-19. The top three challenges were having family or household responsibilities during working hours, feeling stressed or burned out, and slow or unstable internet service.

Image credit: Deloitte.

However, the study noted that compared to 2021’s study, these issues had decreased due to workers getting used to working from home, there being fewer family members at home in 2022 so there were fewer devices competing for internet bandwidth, and networks and devices becoming more optimized for WFH as the pandemic went on.

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From a mental health and relationships viewpoint, most remote workers felt WFH was a successful experiment. At least half of those who worked remotely over the past year said their “family relationships, physical well-being, and emotional well-being improved through the experience.” From a professional standpoint, while they didn’t report improved working relationships with coworkers, less than 20% reported a negative effect on working relationships.

Going forward, 75% of remote workers and 50% of overall employed adults preferred virtual or hybrid working options once the pandemic eases. Of the remote workers, 43% would prefer completely or mostly virtual work, while 29% of overall employed adults had the same preference.

Image credit: Deloitte.

The report stated that businesses should pay attention to their workers: “Companies that simply ignore employee demands for flexible working arrangements may risk losing a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best workers.”

Remote students

The report noted that virtual learning experiences over the course of the pandemic had a major benefit in highlighting that learning is not “one size fits all.” It said that while some students were “anxious to return to the academic and social structure of in-person school, others thrived” in their remote-learning experiences.

A majority of students with remote learning experience (70%) said they would like to have virtual or hybrid learning options in the future. Only 12% said they wanted to attend school completely in person.

Parents, on the other hand, while viewing the remote learning experience as positive overall, preferred their students to be in school, with 40% saying they wanted their children to attend school completely in person, and only 35% preferring fully remote or hybrid learning options.

The study noted, “Remote students need help managing stress and distractions, and they could use technologies or techniques to feel more connected with classmates, teachers, and school culture.”

Deloitte’s Center for Technology, Media and Telecommunications surveyed 2,005 U.S. consumers in Q1 2022 for this report.

Read the full report from Deloitte.

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