Portrait of a Pandemic at Work: New Udemy Report Reveals Employee Anxiety and Return to Work Demands

The Workforce is in Need of Employer Support as Their Work-Lives are Uprooted Now and Into the Foreseeable Future

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 30, 2020 – Udemy, the largest global marketplace for learning and teaching online, today released “Udemy In Depth: The Portrait of a Pandemic at Work,” a timely data report that provides a comprehensive look at the impact COVID-19 and the resulting economic uncertainty has had on American workers.

Findings in the report indicate that as the pandemic continues to dramatically reshape the U.S. economy and workforce, the general concerns of workers have morphed into direct and personal fears and doubts about their immediate and long-term economic futures.

As a result, employees are rethinking what returning to work means, picking up new habits to adjust to their redefined normal, and are developing new skills so they can stay competitive in this new economy:

  • 72% of employees are worried that the “New Normal” caused by COVID-19 and the resulting economic uncertainty will have a long-lasting negative effect on their quality of life and future prospects.
  • 45% feel safer, both physically and mentally, when working remotely. However, 75% also agree they’ve been working harder juggling work and homelife than their ‘significant other.’
  • 29% of employees confess to having consumed alcohol on the job, 51% have watched TV while working, and 45% have worked from bed.
  • 67% report they’ve spent time learning new skills or enhancing existing ones during the COVID-19 Pandemic and 49% preferred online courses.

“The findings of this study reveal a fragile workforce where everyone is fighting new battles and leaders must embrace a culture of empathy,” said Cara Brennan Allamano, Senior Vice President of People, Places, and Learning at Udemy. “We’re living through a time of intense and profound transitions. Organizational leaders should work to be agile in navigating successfully through these changes while also being open and honest with their employees about the challenges they encounter. With no formal divide between home and work, leaders should also be thinking about what additional support they can give employees to help them better adjust to this new way of work.”

Udemy’s study reveals a changing workforce as employees seek out ways to improve their skills to work remotely more effectively and retain their employment. “Employees’ daily lives have been uprooted,” Brennan Allamano added, “and while they seek to make sense of it all, workplaces that promote continuous learning and development, with transparency and a focus on employee growth, will be the ones to stand the test of time.”

Portrait of a Pandemic at Work – Burnout from Anxiety and Uncertainty

Workers are feeling deepening concern about the pandemic’s impact on their safety and security, with 54% saying they are anxious about losing their job, reduced hours, and pay cuts because of it. As a result, employees are experiencing burnout, with 56% saying the COVID-19 Pandemic and economic uncertainty have made it harder for them to maintain a healthy work/life balance. While 78% think their employers are doing all they can and should to protect employees from the COVID-19 Pandemic, 63% fear their employers are also using it as an excuse to trim down their organizations.

Return to Work…or Not?

As states reopen, employers and employees face the reality of returning to shared workspaces and preparing for what needs to change to keep everyone safe. Most (80%) employees are willing to wear a mask in the office and 75% believe their employer should require all employees to be regularly tested for COVID-19. When they’re ready to get back to work, an overwhelming majority (78%) said it’s important for employers to offer flexible remote work policies moving forward and 48% would consider leaving their job if these flexible working options aren’t available. The majority of workers (74%) also think a 4-day work week would make them more productive.

Working Remotely Goes Mainstream

Remote work has become a necessity for many and employees have had to readjust to get work done from home. Thirty-six percent have taken a work call in the bathroom and 35% have taken a work call from a closet. The negative repercussions of the home becoming the workplace have also taken their toll on working parents. Fifty-seven percent of parents reveal it has been very challenging to work while taking care of their children, and furthermore, 60% of Moms agree vs. 51% of Dads.

About Udemy

With a mission to improve lives through learning, Udemy is the world’s largest online learning destination that helps students, businesses, and governments gain the skills they need to compete in today’s economy. Millions of students are mastering new skills from 57,000 expert instructors teaching over 150,000 online courses in topics from programming and data science to leadership and team building. For companies, Udemy for Business offers an employee training and development platform with subscription access to 4,000+ courses, learning analytics, as well as the ability to host and distribute their own content. Udemy for Government is designed to upskill workers and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. Eighty percent of Fortune 100 companies trust Udemy for employee upskilling. Udemy is privately held and headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Denver, Brazil, India, Ireland, and Turkey. Udemy investors include Insight Partners, Prosus Group (Naspers Ventures), Norwest Venture Partners, and Stripes Group.