Case Study

Project Include

In 2020, company leaders globally found themselves pivoting their approach to culture, HR, and operations in the face of a global pandemic.

In partnership with Project Include, we co-led research with Ellen Pao, Caroline Sinders, and Yang Hong to identify the impacts of COVID-19 on the state of harm and harassment in the remote workplace. Our research was supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Omidyar Network, and the Impact Lab of TIME’S UP Foundation.

From May 2020 to February 2021, we interviewed a dozen tech workers, ten experts, and asked 120 questions of 2,796 survey respondents across 1,186 U.S. zip codes, 48 countries, 50 industries, and 8 work levels. One year into the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed a massive transformation of the tech industry into mostly remote working. We found this shift has increased three types of problems: harassment and hostility, harmful work expectations, and anxiety.

Our approach incorporates data equity and an intersectional lens to center on the people who experienced the greatest harm. People harmed were disproportionately Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx, especially women and nonbinary people, and transgender and non-binary people generally, and people over 50. We found increased anxiety in workers who experienced harassment, hostility, and higher work expectations, an increase in harassment for women and nonbinary people, Asian, Black, and Latinx people, transgender people, and especially people with more than one of these identities, work and tool overload, and inconsistent, poorly created or non-existent remote work. – excerpt from our report, Remote work since Covid-19 is exacerbating harm.

Our research calls attention to a need and opportunity for systemic change that addresses structural problems within the tech industry. Simple solutions won’t work and a focus on tools isn’t effective enough. From our report:

“We have no easy playbook for solving systemic biases in tech, and each company and leader should have solutions tailored to their circumstances and situations. We urge companies to treat these cultural and process transformations, especially around belonging and mental health, as you would any other business imperative: Measure, fund, staff, and experiment. It means addressing belonging and mental health as core business imperatives, and learning how to make each of them core competencies fundamental to company success. It means funding and staffing each, and measuring results. It means taking risks and reforming how you think about human resources and balancing long-term company health and employee trust over short-term legal risk. It means having hard conversations and feeling awkward as you learn how to shift priorities. We are no longer in a short-lived pandemic fire- fighting mode; this move to remote, distributed, and online work is a lasting part of how workers and companies will work going forward.”

Read the full report

How Covid-19 Has affected remote work