The New Abnormal: Social Insights on Remote Work

December 24, 2023

Most of us are now finally starting to step back from the chaos of our new reality. After the client dramas, crisis comms, daily paradigm shifts and more, what does normal look like for us now?

As the founder of Ten Bear Group, one constant for me has been remote work. I built Ten Bear Group as remote by default to allow my small team to operate across multiple time zones. While this can have its challenges, it also unlocks many opportunities for the team members, their families, and Indeed hiring managers.

We specialise in uncovering interesting patterns in human behaviour, which we refer to as “Digital Consumer Insight”. However, today we’ll be turning our attention to employees and organisations rather than consumers.


Data from Exploding Topics shows the growth in “remote jobs” searches.

One of the many tools we use to stay on top of consumer trends, Exploding Topics, launched their COVID-19 trends report today. From reading this, a few trends sparked our interest to research further:

While search trends for “Remote Jobs” have been rising for years, they have been boosted by the new way of working. In my previous life as a digital nomad, working remotely was always the goal. However, little did I expect a pandemic to take it mainstream, only with fewer beaches and restricted exercise!


remote jobs trending
The online conversation around working from home and remote work jumped from a daily average of 15k to over 800k. This is now settling back into a rhythm of circa 85k on weekdays, as the affected continue to share experiences.
remote work insights
In addition to people searching Google for remote work-related queries, this trend is backed up spectacularly by the social data. At the beginning of March, conversation online turned to sharing tips, asking questions, and highlighting experiences.

After we find a trend in consumer behaviour, be that through search intelligence (search listening), social data, or first-party client data, it is very rare that the story ends there. I was curious about the specific elements of remote work that people were searching for online:

Managers took to Google to find resources to support their new challenges. Interestingly hiring remains a high priority, even in these uncertain economic times.

remote work trends
Hiring, onboarding and managing remote employees each represent unique challenges and pose their own sets of questions. From taxes, to interviews and culture, the new normal is more ‘new’ than ‘normal’ for many of those affected.

Employees were quick to upgrade their home office environment.
(Data: Google Shopping Trends)

remote employee insights
A few months later, we now have a white-collar workforce equipped with the resources and skills to work remotely on an ongoing basis. And with only 9% of affected workers in the UK wanting to go back to the office full time, we wanted to explore what is and isn’t working for new remote workers.

Firstly, we collated over 22 million articles, tweets, Instagram posts, and more to analyse in Brandwatch. These were filtered into personal conversation, which was then split into those finding remote work to be easier, and those finding it more difficult.

We didn’t have a particular hypothesis one way or the other, but interestingly to us, the overall split was perfectly even.

Breaking down the overall conversation about the difficulty of remote work into the constituent professions revealed the careers who were finding remote work more challenging.

However, peeling back another layer revealed that not all careers are dealing with the changes of remote working equally. Understandably, medical professionals and sportspeople will struggle to work remotely more than software developers. Although they appear to have taken to the changes most easily, 45% of software developers were also finding the changes hard. It seems that no careers have been spared from some level of struggle.

Underlying drivers of the conversation revolved around work-life balance changes.

work life balance insights
To explore the division in opinion, we took to the topics cloud. Here, it appears that those thriving in the remote world were spending more time with their families, and socialising (we assume online!). This led to an increased feeling of productivity compared to when in the office. Though the key driver of the struggling group is that they have found themselves working longer hours!

Want your people take to remote life? Make sure they’re clocking out on time and spending some time on their hobbies and families.

Female employees were more likely to express dissatisfaction with their new working arrangements.

employee insights
The world has changed, and it seems like some managers and employees are handling it better than others. Core drivers of traditional job satisfaction still hold true; being well equipped, work-life balance and well informed are as relevant as ever.

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