The survey, which took place in October and November, asked a series of questions about life during the lockdown to nearly 10,000 respondents in 203 towns and villages across the country. According to the survey, income, age and gender have played an important role in how Indians respond to some of the shocks of the pandemic.
First, the positives. A majority of respondents (62%) felt their relationships with family members had improved since the lockdown. Engagement with nature has increased for the most part, as has personal health. Post-millennial respondents were more likely to report an improvement in both numbers, according to survey data.
Nostalgia for pre-Covidian life was clear among urban Indians. Almost everyone said they missed some aspect of social life during the lockdown. Meeting with friends and family was at the top of this list, but over 40% of respondents also said they did not go to work or college. The older generation, or pre-millennials, were more likely than post-millennials to miss social gatherings with friends and family. This generation was also more likely to miss travel and go on vacation.
The survey was jointly conducted by the Indian arm of global market research firm YouGov, Mint and the Delhi-based think tank Center for Policy Research (CPR). About half of the respondents were millennials (aged 24 to 39). The rest were post-millennials (aged 18 to 23) and pre-millennials (over 39). This was the fifth in a series of biannual surveys aimed at examining the aspirations, anxieties and attitudes of digital natives in India.
While social life came to a halt during the lockdown, work did not. The reality of remote work has led to profound changes in organizational strategies, some of which may survive the current crisis.
Of the 5,842 respondents who were employed, more than half were still working from home at the time of the survey. This was true for most sectors, but particularly for workers in information technology, media and education. Sectors such as retail, healthcare, autos and utilities were exceptions to this trend.
Women were more likely than men to continue working remotely. While 23% of men surveyed had returned to the physical office full time, this proportion was 15% for women.
However, the experience of working from home has not been particularly positive for everyone.
Less than half (45%) want the practice to continue. The home environment indeed made work safer for most people, but also led to an increase in the office workload (81%), with 60% reporting having difficulty balancing tasks. housewives.
No industry trend was evident to suggest that discontent was exclusive to specific types of jobs. There were also no income trends. Almost all the classes felt equally busy.
However, there was a noticeable trend. Those who still work from home feel better about working remotely than those who are back in the office full time. This indicates that the choice may have been voluntary after the locks were lifted and those who didn’t like the experience have returned to their normal work routines.
Post-millennials have had a worse experience on almost every front of remote working than pre-millennials. Men were almost as likely as women (around 40%) to agree that working from home had brought them new forms of digital harassment. Age was an important factor here. Post-millennial men (45%) were much more likely to have experienced such virtual harassment than older men (29%). However, for women, the responses were similar across all age groups.
Globally, these new experiences at work and in personal life have increased anxiety levels since the lockdown. The survey also confirmed this trend among urban Indians. Eight in 10 respondents felt some form of increased anxiety. The worry was financial for over 60%, while loneliness crept in for 46% of respondents. More than half of the respondents said they feel anxious in general.
Respondents who earn less say they are more concerned about money or employment. Loneliness, however, was more a function of age. Post-millennials were almost 10 percentage points more likely to feel lonely than pre-millennials.
Anxiety has manifested itself in the way people feel about their mental health. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents felt that the situation had worsened during the pandemic period. There was some age difference here, as the figure ranged from 25% for pre-millennials to 29% for post-millennials. Among those who felt more alone or more worried, this figure rose to 40%. Across all age and sex groups, post-millennial women were the most likely to report deteriorating mental health.
However, only 30% of respondents who were in less good mental health sought some form of skilled professional help such as counseling. This figure was remarkably stable across regions, genders and age groups. The fallout from the pandemic on mental health, often ignored but widespread, has highlighted the glaring lack of awareness and access to qualified professionals.
The socio-cultural changes of the age of covids can have far-reaching consequences. Architectural designs of office and home spaces, and technological changes in the way we communicate, are already underway to ensure efficiency and health safety. As the new year begins, it’s clear that many effects could continue to spill over into family space, office relationships, and social life.
This is the third in a five-part data journalism series on the impact of the pandemic on digital natives in India. Part One examined the uneven impact of job and income loss in India’s urban areas, and Part Two looked at how Indians struggle with financial insecurity.
The authors are based at the Center for Policy Research (CPR), New Delhi.