Homing from Work: Supporting a Better Work/Life Balance


Executive Summary

As part of its ongoing research into the white-collar workforce, Captivate Network, the leading digital media company for reaching on-the-go professionals, has found an increase in “Homing from Work.” This trend, which entails taking care of personal and family needs during the workday, has contributed to an improved work/life balance for many busy professionals. It has also created new opportunities for brands to engage with consumers when they are in-market for a variety of goods and services.

Since Captivate last looked at work/life balance in 2011, there has been an 11 percent increase in the number of people reporting a healthy work/life balance. This improvement comes despite a 30 percent increase in the number of respondents reporting working more than nine hours a day. This unique finding of longer working hours but healthier balance seems to be explained by the increase in “Homing from Work” behavior.

The workplace isn’t exclusively about business anymore; it is an under-utilized advertising opportunity for reaching people who are also researching and purchasing personal products and services. A highly-targeted media channel like Captivate Network can effectively educate consumers on their options and alternatives. The study reinforces that there is an opportunity for marketers to make the phenomenon of “Homing from Work,” work for them.

This report describes “Homing from Work” behaviors, identifies the people engaging in these behaviors in the workplace, details the specific products and services people are researching and purchasing during the workday and offers suggestions on how marketers can take advantage of this growing trend.

Homing from Work

Despite working longer hours (a 30 percent increase in the number of people working more than nine hours per day since 2011), white-collar workers say they feel better about their overall work/life balance (an 11 percent increase since 2011). One of the factors contributing to this improvement is “Homing from Work,” or taking care of personal business during business hours. 93 percent of busy professionals report taking breaks to do personal activities during the workday. “Homing from Work” behaviors are equally reported by men and women, among all age groups, at every title and at all income levels.

Between 2011 and 2013 there have been dramatic increases in the types of personal activities people report engaging in during the workday.



Percent Increase 2011 to 2013


80 percent

Online Shopping

63 percent

Shopping in Retail Stores

34 percent

Running Errands

31 percent


The increase over 2011 is important but it is only part of the story. More interesting for marketers is what activities people are participating in on a regular basis. The following table illustrates the specific types of personal activities people are doing during the workday:



Total % of people

Spend Time Online

68 percent

Go on Facebook, Twitter, or Other Social Network

53 percent

Run Errands

49 percent

Shop in Retail Stores

31 percent

Vacation Planning

29 percent


18 percent


16 percent


While “Homing from Work” is broadly practiced in the white-collar workplace, there are some notable demographic facts to be observed:

  • ·         Women are 23 percent more likely than men to go shopping during the workday;
  • ·         Those making more than $100,000 per year are 30 percent more likely to exercise during the workday; and
  • ·         Younger workers (those under the age of 30) are the most likely to visit social networking sites, reporting the behavior 76 percent more than those over the age of 50.

What is important for marketers to recognize is that white-collar workers are not solely in-market for business products and services during the workday. The research suggests that Captivate’s busy, upscale audience would be receptive to messages that help them better manage their home and personal lives while in the workplace.

The following sections of this report look at three specific “Homing from Work” activities: running errands, shopping in retail stores and spending time online.  

On the Run: Running Out of the Office Leads to a Better Work/Life

Almost half of all respondents reported leaving the workplace to take care of personal business. The following table illustrates the types of personal errands people are running during the workday:


Total % of Those Who Run Workday Errands


71 percent


52 percent

Personal Mailing/Shipping

46 percent

Doctor/Dentist Appointments

45 percent


13 percent

Dry Cleaning

10 percent

*Base (403): Employed Adults Who Report Running Personal Errands During Work Hours in a Typical Week

When people are on their way in or out of the workplace, they are receptive to information and reminders about products and services they may need. Captivate’s in-elevator digital screens are a trusted workplace media and an effective channel for reaching and influencing these customers or prospects.

The research also illustrates demographic insights into errand running behavior, including:

  • ·         Women are five times more likely than men to leave the workplace for a manicure/pedicure;
  • ·         At 69 percent, senior managers are the group most likely to leave the office for doctor/dentist appointments; and
  • ·         Workers over the age of 50 are the most likely to shop for gifts, greeting cards and flowers.

Retail Shopping: Not So Secret Shopping Leads to a Better Work/Life Balance

Nearly a third of people who are “Homing from Work” report leaving the workplace to shop. Retail therapy is one way white-collar workers preserve a healthy work/life balance. The following table illustrates the top product categories people report shopping for during the workday:



Total % of Those In-Store Shopping During the Workday

Clothes, Jewelry and Accessories

85 percent

Grocery Shopping / Beverage

51 percent

OTC Medication

45 percent


23 percent


18 percent


17 percent

*Base (258): Employed Adults Who Report Shopping In Retail Stores During Work Hours in a Typical Week


The research also illustrates some relevant demographic insights into shopping behavior, including:

  • ·         Women are 58 percent more likely than men to shop for food when they are out of the office;
  • ·         Men are 44 percent more likely than women to shop for books; and
  • ·         Workers under the age of 30 are the most likely to shop for clothing during the workday.

Captivate’s audience is in-market for a broad range of products and is making purchases during the workday. They are also sharing and seeking advice and recommendations with colleagues and welcome information from trusted workplace media to help make purchase decisions. This creates new opportunities for marketers to reach professionals when they are coming and going from the office by delivering highly targeted – and highly relevant – advertising messages.

More Informed, More Efficient Online Activities

Almost 70 percent of people who report “Homing from Work” say they use their work computers for personal online activities. Spending time online during the workday is an important tool that helps busy professionals preserve a healthy work/life balance. The following table illustrates how people are spending their personal online time during the workday:


Total % of Those Online for Personal Use During the Workday

Financial Services/Insurance

83 percent


66 percent

Shopping for Clothes, Accessories etc.

50 percent


31 percent


34 percent

Job Search

20 percent

 *Base (827): Employed Adults Who Report Going Online for Personal Use During Work Hours in a Typical Week

Demographically, the research found:

  • ·         Men are 123 percent more likely than women to research or shop for electronics online;
  • ·         Women are 185 percent more likely than men to look up recipes; and
  • ·         Workers under 30 are 38 percent more likely than those over 50 to look for airline tickets.

Busy people are using their workplace computers to research, engage with and purchase a broad range of personal products and services. They value information from trusted workplace media to help guide them and make this personal online time as productive as possible. This creates opportunities for office-based advertising communications that can provide these professionals with information to help them make the most of their personal time online.


The trend toward meeting personal needs during the workday has led to an increase in overall work/life balance. As people increasingly use part of their workday to run errands, visit retailers or search and shop online, “Homing from Work” creates opportunities for advertisers to reach customers and prospects at a critical touch point while they are in-market for a variety of personal products and services. Captivate provides a unique, trusted and effective channel for reaching these upscale consumers in the workplace, where highly relevant and timely brand messages influence purchase decisions on a daily basis.




Captivate’s Office Pulse research is designed to offer an empirical glimpse into the attitudes and behaviors of the white-collar workforce. Captivate commissioned MarketTools, the leader in software and services for Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) and Market Research, to build and manage the Office Pulse research panel, consisting of over 4,000 white-collar professionals working in Captivate’s footprint of 1,000+ class A office buildings across North America.


The panel is the source for workplace behavior and advertising communications measurement for dozens of Fortune 500 companies and their agency partners. The “Homing from Work” research was conducted in February, 2013 and was based on the responses to an online blind survey of 838 people in 14 major metropolitan centers in the US and Canada. For more information about Captivate’s Office Pulse, visit officepulse.captivate.com.



About Captivate Network

Captivate Network is the leading digital media company reaching millions of on-the-go business professionals throughout the workday across North America. Captivate cuts through the clutter of information overload to provide viewers with content and product messages that are timely, relevant and empower them to balance the personal and professional demands of the workday. Known for its vast network of more than 10,000 office elevator displays, Captivate continues to expand the delivery of customized, actionable information to a busy, upscale audience via emerging technology platforms. Founded in 1997, Captivate was acquired by Gannett in 2004.