A new study being released later today shows that 88% of Americans surveyed say they have a “better appreciation” for the role technology has played in helping culture and society during the coronavirus crisis.
National Research Group, a global insights firm, surveyed more than 1,000 people in early April to measure how values and opinions have shifted amid the current health and economic crises.
The change in opinion about tech companies has been swift. The study notes that just a month earlier, a Gallup-Knight survey found 60% of Americans believed major tech companies, battered by revelations they failed to protect users from privacy hacks and misinformation, “do more to divide the country” than unite it.
But with a growing number of households relying on products from Google and Facebook (along with services from enterprise tech providers such as Cisco and Zoom) for work, school, and interpersonal connections, technology companies have gone from enemy to leader, says Jon Penn, CEO of National Research Group. He says these businesses have an opportunity to capitalize on the newfound goodwill. “The leadership [characteristics] they are showing through the crisis are the ones they should keep after the crisis,” he says.
Penn says one of the biggest surprises of the study is how the youngest and most digitally savvy American adults, known as Gen Z, initially had great difficulty adjusting to remote work. Nearly one-third say they are easily distracted working from home, and they have harder time than Millennials and Gen X counterparts dealing with the lack of in-person collaboration. Penn says in response he’s seeing the youngest cohort cope with their isolation by engaging in new hobbies: One third are cooking, meditating, and exercising for the first time.
And while the headlines continue to be bleak, with unemployment expected to hit its highest levels since the Great Depression, Penn says Americans have started to reset their values. His firm’s study shows 89% of Americans say the pandemic has “been a good time time to be reflective on what’s important to me” and 88% say they are “actively working” to improve their outlook on life.