Changes in How We Work Alter How We Eat
For nearly all Americans in the workforce, where and how they do their jobs has changed due to the effects of COVID-19. For those fortunate enough to be able to work remotely, as reported by CNBC, a recent survey by the freelancing platform Upwork found that 1 in 4 Americans says they'll be working remotely in 2021, and the report notes, "by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% increase from pre-pandemic levels."
Such big changes in work locales and environments have had pronounced effects on the context in which eating behavior occurs. Key insights from our Snacking: Emerging, Evolving and Disrupted report bear this out, notably that while many shifts occurred in the American workforce in the past year, the group that has sparked the most curiosity has been the many workers and students now telecommuting.
This group is less likely to snack more now, and many in this group have been able to maintain or even improve their healthy approaches to snacking. By contrast, those working or studying fully away from home report snacking more and making more indulgent choices now, possibly due to the difference in their daily activities and exposure to stressors or to demographic differences between the two groups.
The Hartman Group’s Eating Occasions 2020 white paper shows that while typically about three quarters of eating and drinking occasions take place at home, the other quarter normally take place either at work, at a restaurant, or at other away-from-home locations (e.g., at a park, on the go).
In 2020, the percentage of at-home eating occasions reached 83% due to reasons such as municipal regulations imposed at various points throughout the year (e.g., stay-at-home orders, no/restricted in-person dining), an increase of working from home, and restaurant closures (this compares to 75% of all eating occasions occurring at home in 2019). Comparative to eating at home, eating at work declined three percentages points in 2020 compared to 2019.
It’s not surprising that where Americans eat has shifted dramatically in the past year, with eating occasions significantly more likely to be at home. Eating Occasions 2020finds that across the day, the increase in at-home eating was most prominent between morning and afternoon snack occasions — those that were previously eaten at work or a restaurant.
For more information:
White Paper: Eating Occasions 2020