Over the past two months, social distancing has upended the normal rhythm of days and weeks, replacing it with a long duration of sameness. Among the many changes that people have experienced as a result is a blurring between the home and business spheres. For many of us, the separation between work and leisure has ceased to exist. And as millions of people have adapted, discovering or creating new ways to stay productive, to unwind, and to find moments of escape, the implications for marketers are profound.
Business as unusual
The evidence that businesses and their employees are transitioning to a new day-to-day reality includes new interest in search terms such as “increase productivity,” “technology,” and “digital transformation.” And as businesses start shifting their planning beyond the immediate term and prepare for longer-term adjustments, we’ve seen an increase in interest for queries related to “team building” (+9%).1
At the same time, economic uncertainty has prompted many employees to consider a plan B. For example, in Germany we’ve seen a rise in search interest for short-term jobs and finance relief (“kurzarbeit arbeitnehmer” — “short-time work employee”).2
Our definition of leisure has also been upended. Current travel restrictions make getting on a plane or ship, exploring a new city, or visiting a resort impossible.
To cope, people are turning to digital experiences to satisfy their craving for escape and exploration. Overall, search interest in “virtual” is up almost 500% since January, with increased interest in virtual ways to travel3 including looking for “live zoo” (U.K.) and “visita virtual” (virtual tour in Spanish).
Not all escapes involve new destinations, however. For some, trying their hand at a new skill is escape enough. For example, we’ve seen an increased interest in how to make things, including “como hacer pan” or “how to bake bread” in Spanish.4 For others, social isolation has created more time to binge watch their favorite shows — search interest for Netflix is now spiking between noon and 6 p.m.5
For many, navigating remote work and redefining what leisure time looks like will involve plenty of trial and error. Search provides a window into what people care about and where they’re looking for help and for inspiration.