Scroll Stoppers: Part 2 - Mullet Media
How audiences are finding ways to rebuild boundaries
Thanks for joining us. This week we’re sharing Part 2 of Scroll Stoppers: six ways hybrid work is changing our attention. Here’s where you can read Part 1 along with a little reminder about why we’re releasing a report this way.
OK. Hands up if you’ve ever sent a work email whilst sitting on the toilet. I know, we’re all disgusting, right? But you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do sometimes. Part 2 is all about how hybrid work messes with our work-life balance and how audiences have developed a ‘business at the front - party at the back’ Mullet Media strategy to cope.
Part 2 should take no more than 6 minutes to read. For those of you who want to dive deeper, there’s a reading list, some quotes and a short takeaway at the end. There’s a shorter downloadable summary here. We recommend you enjoy it with all notifications off and a nice cup of English Breakfast tea.
Everyone here at Storythings will love you forever if you share your tips or coping strategies with the rest of the community in the comments below.
If you’ve ever had a job, chances are that work-life balance is something you’ve had to consider—skipping your friend's party to pull an extra shift, taking your lunch break al-desko, literally any advertising gig. But recently the boundaries between work and play, professional and private, have never been so malleable.
With many of us working and living in the same space during the pandemic, and the subsequent rise in remote and hybrid working, we’ve gotten used to quickly switching between work-time and break-time. Traditionally work-based platforms have entered our social sphere, and 78% of our respondents say they transition between personal tasks and work activities throughout the day, usually through the same screens, devices, and chat apps. One interviewee explains, “You go to your phone thinking oh, I will just see what others are up to, catch up with my friends, check my messages and then I am sort of sucked into things that are work related, in a time when I do not want to think about work.”
But now, in this strange hangover of the digital sphere adapting to mimic real-life proximity, it seems reconciling our public and personal selves is our biggest challenge. We want to make sure the right content is finding us in the right context and our research shows the development of two key behaviours when it comes to what we consume and how we interact in online spaces.
The first is to filter out negative content. This is particularly relevant in work-from-home settings, when we’re perhaps more introspective and vulnerable to negative messaging and are more conscious of our own wellbeing. One interviewee explains, “I avoid bleak stories because I feel that at home they just stay with you, and I can’t talk it out with somebody.”
In-line with this, the second behaviour we see is a more controlled approach to media engagement—things like strict screen time limits, timeline cleansing, and blocking various apps. Another interviewee notes, “I have a lot of friends who deleted certain apps, or changed their password, to have more self control.”
And as boundaries change, our habits do too. Not only are we ditching doom scrolling and revenge bedtime procrastination in favour of more intentional consumption, but our research shows people are carving out time in their work-from-home days for the things they find important—whether it’s getting their 10,000 steps or savouring their lunch breaks to catch up with their favourite podcasts or shows. (Did someone say reruns of Bargain Hunt?)
If you’d like to go a little deeper, here are a few Mullet Media things you might want to read.
A Brief History of Workhome: It wasn't until the Industrial Revolution, especially the 19th and 20th centuries, that leaving your home to work became a familiar activity. A brief history of the workhome (10 min read)
On how the workspace can contribute to our focus: Workers said the top reason they come to the office is “to focus on my work.” The New Reason Workers Say They Come To The Office? To Actually Focus On Their Work: Survey (8 min read)
On the workday consumer: Working from home has blurred the line between work and personal time, creating a new buyer persona, according to a Microsoft report. Blurring of line between work and home creates a new consumer persona (3 min read)
On the importance of workspace: A recent study from Stanford University showed that only 49% of American workers log-in remotely from a dedicated room, while the remaining 51% are working either from their bedroom or a communal area. How your space shapes the way you view remote work - BBC Worklife (6 min read)
On the decline of news consumption: Consumption patterns reveal disconnection and disengagement with news – amongst some news consumers. Overview and key findings of the 2022 Digital News Report | Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (report)
On media consumption and working from home: With more flexible work schedules, what does media consumption look like? Answer: less structured media consumption and an interweaving of work and play. Balancing Act: With More Time at Home, Work Days and Media Habits Merge (5 min read)
On Media Fatigue: 79% of Gen Z and Millennials say they do at least one of the following to monitor or limit the amount of time they spend online: paying attention to how products keep them engaged, setting time limits on devices, or tracking time spent on devices. News and digital fatigue - American Press Institute (7 min read)
It probably doesn’t surprise anyone reading this report that many of our interviewees talked a lot about their relationship with their phones. But putting in barriers is difficult when we rely on our phones for work, pleasure and simple life admin too.
It’s not only the media that is driving it. It’s also the administration of life, work, and on top of that having fun. So all of that leaves you looking at your phone far too much and not being present with the world.
There is a slight frustration - why am I looking at a screen for work and also for pleasure? Phones are particularly difficult because they mix these two things so much.
We heard a lot about the mental health challenges of blurred boundaries and how people were dealing with it.
Working from home makes you quite introspective. You’re surrounded by your own memories in a physical form.
There is a tendency to be much more empathic. When I work from home I’m very careful with what I consume media wise.
For some, phones have given them more freedom.
I’ve noticed how much more flexible my colleagues are, especially the younger members of the team. They’ve really taken advantage of that opportunity and are working on their phones a lot. I presume that means they can work from different places, like from the park. Some listen in while they walk and take advantage of the mobility of the phone, and still deliver their work.
Our survey asked people to complete the sentence “When I work from home I…” The three top answers chosen were:
Spend more time on messaging apps
Listen to more music
Audiences constantly make important decisions about how they spend their attention. Think about how you can help them choose where your content sits in their routine.
Include read times
Use clear language about what they’ll get from it or how they can use it
Suggest when they might engage with it: is it a podcast they might enjoy listening to whilst out on a walk or a longread they might want to bookmark and read later?
Thanks for reading the second part of Scroll Stoppers: six ways hybrid work is changing our attention. If you liked it, please share it with colleagues, friends, or anyone you think will find it useful. Leave your comments below. Subscribe to our other newslettersand .
We’re back next week with part 3 which is titled Everything All At Once.
Thank you! This is helpful to a new Substack writer, me!