Menu
Back

WFH – comparing how Americans and Brits talk about COVID and the new normal

By Melina McDonald

COVID has changed a lot. During the last month or so Coronavirus has forced people from all around the world to work from home. For many people, this is the first time in their career that they’ve had to do this – and as exciting as it may have first seemed to work in your pajamas, there is still a big learning curve many of us are going through.

At Relative Insight, we wanted to understand how people from different geographical areas were talking about working from home and what better way to understand than to compare what they’ve been saying?

As an American, working from my apartment in Cleveland, I decided that I wanted to look at how people in the US are talking about working from home versus how people from the UK are discussing it, and my comparison was done by analyzing social data on Twitter.

Let’s take a look at the US first:

Collaboration:

Americans are 2x more likely to discuss best practices when it comes to WFH, and some are finding that they are more productive than when they were in the office. Though many people may be running into learning curves, they are finding lots of tips and best practices from other people on social.

It seems that even though Americans might be big on collaborating on best working practices, many are finding issues on how to manage a remote team, as they are 2.3x more likely to talk about it than those in the UK.

Managing a remote team:

Teamwork is huge; many of the most sought after companies to work for in America are known for being big on “team atmosphere”, but how do you keep that atmosphere going in a 100% remote environment? On social, a lot of suggestions say to be weary of micromanaging and virtual happy hours are a must!

Now what are they saying across the pond?

Feeling lucky:

Brits are 1.4x more likely to talk about being lucky to be able to work from home, and so even during this unprecedented times, people are looking on the positive side.

Yes, working from home is a challenge – and it might be your first time having to do so – but you should be happy that you have the option.

Worrying about others:

As lots of Brits are very happy that they have the option to work from home, they are also very concerned about the people who do not have the same luxury.

People from the the UK are 1.6x more likely to discuss key workers and other workers who are not able to work safely from their homes, and Brits are extremely worried about the wellbeing of people who must go out to work.

Comparing the two

By looking at social language data I was able to run a geographical comparison and see how Americans and Brits feel about working from home. And what did it tell me? It told me that Americans seem to be more worried about how working from home is going to affect them directly, whereas Brits seem to have more feelings about other people. (Are we surprised about this, I certainly am!)

Actionable insights

Americans seem to be more worried about productivity and keeping team morale at an all time high. If you’re a US company, you could send out a ‘WFH best practice guide’ and be sure to schedule weekly fun company events, such as happy hours.

Brits are worried about essential workers, and other people who have to have to leave the safety of their own homes to go out to work. If you are a British company who is able to have all your employees working from home, perhaps start a company fundraiser for those essential workers?