Ipsos

Scores of companies across the country are encouraging their employees to work from home to help limit the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. How this is changing American work habits and their usage of AM/FM radio is the subject of a freshly fielded study from Ipsos.

Commissioned by Cumulus Media/Westwood One, the national study of 1,027 persons 18+ was conducted from March 13 -15 “While the number of businesses, venues, and locations that have closed or curtailed visitation has grown sharply even since this study was fielded just two days ago, this data serves to quantify the state of the American workforce during a period in time,” Cumulus/Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in a post on the “Everyone’s Listening” blog.

During the week of March 9-13, 11% of Americans who normally work outside the home worked from home, the study found. That was a monumental week, when world health officials officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic, triggering a barrage of cancellations that brought the live sports and entertainment industries to a halt. But the data shows the tele-commuting trend varied by geography. Of those who normally work outside the home, nearly twice as many in the Northeast (19%) worked from home March 9-13 and only 7% in the Midwest stayed home.

The work-from-home trend picked up steam this week but not enough to claim a majority. For the week of March 16-20, 77% of those who normally work outside of the home said they will go to work while 23% will stay home this week. Again, there are regional differences More than one-third (36%) of those in the Northeast who normally work outside the home say they will work from home this week compared to 19% in the South, 21% in the Midwest and 22% in the West.

In addition to where they live, how much they are paid is a contributing factor to whether workers will work from home or travel to a workplace. Just over one-fourth (26%) of workers who make over $50,000 say they will work from home the week of March 16-20. Only 14% of those making less than $50,000 say they will tele-commute during the same time period, since many of those positions may require the presence of the employee.

In another significant finding that has direct implications for radio, the survey found that American commuters are avoiding public transportation. More than half (55%) of those who normally use public transportation are already, or planning on, using it less. Nearly four in ten (39%) say they will use it about the same and 6% say more. And those who use a car or truck to get to work are sticking to that mode of transportation. Nearly eight in ten (78%) of car/truck users say they are using, or planning on using, their vehicle about the same while 8% indicate less and 13% say more. This is important for the radio industry since a majority of radio listening occurs in the car. What’s more, those who work full-time are more likely to be heavy radio listeners, Nielsen data has shown.

Among the 23% who say they will work from home the week of March 16-20, 35% typically get to work via public transportation, walking, or using some other means besides a car or truck while the majority (65%) use a car or truck. Among the 77% of workers who say they will go to work this week, the vast majority (90%) typically use their vehicle.

Under normal circumstances, 85% of Americans say they usually use a car or truck to get to work, while 15% use another means.

Importantly for radio, nearly one in five (18%) heavy AM/FM radio listeners, defined as those who listen to more than 5 hours a week, say they will listen even more to broadcast radio due to the coronavirus outbreak, while 79% said about the same and only 4% indicated less.

Additionally, 20% of heavy AM/FM radio listeners say they will be listening more to news reports on AM/FM radio. “The crisis has also turned many into news fanatics,” Bouvard says. “Nearly one-third say they will be consuming more news online and news on TV.”

Entitled “The State Of The American Worker” the online study was conducted March 13-15, 2020 in Ipsos’s Omnibus platform, using the web-enabled “Knowledge Panel.” That’s a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. general population, not just the online population. The study consisted of 1,027 nationally representative interviews among adults aged 18+. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points.