📈 Where Does Work Work? When To? And What To Do This Summer?

We're headed back to: the office, the future, and the grill

Welcome to Trendlines!

We hope June has left a good impression on you so far because impressions can be everything. As Maya Angelou once put it, “People will never remember what you said… but they’ll remember how you made them feel.” Ironically, everyone remembers that Maya Angelou said that.

The data-driven insights we’d love you to remember this week include:

  • Unwrapping whether Americans’ in-person working presence is a present or just unpleasant.

  • Breaking out the DeLorean to go back and relive our finest moments (which we totally didn’t romanticize).

  • Finding the perfect mixture of survey science chemicals to produce the ultimate summer experience.

Enjoy reading.


Remotely Working or Working the Remote?

Working from home in the comfort of sweatpants with unlimited access to snacks was possibly the only benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with many tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Meta asking employees to return to the office, we hope sweatpants are added to the dress code because, let’s face it, once you go elastic, life is (up to) twice as fantastic.

Currently, 60% of working Americans are in an office full-time, while 36% work completely remote (18%) or split their time between the office and home (18%). But how long will this remain the status quo? Among those currently working fully remote, 23% believe there is a chance they will be dragged back asked to return to the office at least part-time by the end of the year. 

While many employers didn’t mask the benefits of remote work during the height of the pandemic, some now say employees are more productive when working in a traditional office setting. To uncover how Americans really feel about this idea, we secretly recorded their Zoom meetings. Well, kinda… we employed a list experiment to identify whether there are any differences between how American workers privately and publicly feel about work productivity in the office space.

In the aggregate, there are no differences between Americans’ public versus private opinions—in both types of questioning, 53% endorsed the statement, “The average worker is more productive in a traditional workspace compared to at home.” However, differences between private and public opinions are more pronounced for those who work in an office at least some of the time.

Specifically, Americans who spend at least part-time in an office are about 10% less likely to say the average worker is more productive in a traditional office environment when asked privately than publicly. We’d be more likely to publicly agree with that statement, too, if our employer were a tech giant who had access to all our data. Sure, we look at cat videos for four hours a day, but that feels pretty purrrductive.

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Out There

How Soon Is Yesterday?

Whether it’s Tenet, The Terminator, or 13 Going on 30, time travel is a staple across modern fiction, showing up in every genre. So, as the future continues to turn into the present at a steady pace, we took it upon ourselves to ask the tough question: Who’s ready to take the Leap?

Three-fourths of Americans are willing (either “very” or “somewhat”) to travel to the past. On the other end of the timeline, 64% of respondents report they are at least somewhat willing to go to the future. When compared with Black Americans, significantly more (13%) White Americans are willing to travel back in time while 5% less are willing to travel forward. White Americans spent too long in the Mess Around Era, and aren’t as interested in the Era of Find Out.

Those primed to go back in time, when asked what their holiday would entail, overwhelmingly chose activities that had to do with their own lives. Many Americans (35%) stated they want to relive events in their own lives and 26% said they would use the trip to meet their own ancestors. While maybe a little self-indulgent, this preoccupation with our own pasts has been present since the beginning of time... travel fiction.

Witnessing famous historical events was the third most popular activity for those willing to travel to the past—16% of respondents report they would theoretically be down for a trip to see the pyramids being built or to root for Russell Crowe in a gladiatorial fight. Only 4% of respondents said they would use the trip to see extinct animals. Presumably walking with the dinosaurs doesn’t have the appeal it used to. 

Want to see the data? Curious about the methodology? Just reply to this email.


I Know What You Did Want To Do Last This Summer

Summer is hot and all, but Americans just aren’t in love with summer, y’know? If we can avoid allowing our thoughts to drift toward pumpkin spice for a moment, perhaps we can stop and appreciate some of the slow jams that summer has been blasting from the boombox outside our window.

During possibly one of the last summers in which there are available activities beyond “sheltering indoors away from the uninhabitable heat,” which activities are Americans most (and least) looking forward to this upcoming season? We conducted a MaxDiff experiment, our favorite summer activity, to find out.

Americans trying to avoid “Summertime Sadness” are most looking forward to some (Lana Del) rays of sunshine in the form of cookouts, general relaxing outdoors, and going to the beach. If you really want to impress your friends, host a barbecue (most preferred activity) and optimize your menu with the best BBQ menu items. And then immediately annoy your friends by mentioning that your ideas derive from data-driven Trendlines insights. Much less anticipated summer activities are yardwork, sailing, and summer sports, which, let’s face it, reads like the to-do list of a sheltered teenager summering with their wealthy aunt and uncle on Martha’s Vineyard.

That’s a wrap, folks

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About Gradient

Gradient is a cross-functional team of industry analysts, market researchers, data scientists, technologists, and storytellers who help organizations uncover missed opportunities, find new layers of clarity, and pioneer new directions with confidence and statistical integrity. We work with startups, Fortune 100 brands, consulting firms, and political campaigns.

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