Email, Slack, office phones, VoIP… what do the numbers say about the future of business communication?
The importance of effective communication in the workplace can’t be overstated. Whether it’s an email, a phone call, a Slack message, or a good old-fashioned meeting, how a business’ employees work with each other is a key contributor to its success.
But what is the current state of communication in the workplace, exactly? We wanted to find out. And, as we dug up more and more facts about business communication, a few alarming questions began to raise their heads.
Just how engaged, for instance, are American employees? How much time do we waste opening, ignoring, or discarding irrelevant or spam emails? And sure, the past few years have seen Slack become the tool of choice for millions of workers…but does it actually boost productivity?
Read on for 99 eye-opening facts about how our workforce communicates. Just how important is effective workplace communication? And what are the consequences when it’s done badly? From the importance of phones to the waning influence of meetings, the following statistics are a must-read for interns and CEOs alike. Let’s get started!
01 | Phone Statistics (1 – 16)
02 | Email Statistics (18 – 43)
03 | Slack Usage Statistics (44- 58)
04 | Meeting Statistics (59 – 62)
05 | VoIP Phone System Statistics (63 – 66)
06 | The State of Workplace Communication (67 – 73)
07 | The Importance of Good Communication (74 – 77)
08 | The Cost of Poor Communication (78 – 90)
09 | Engagement in the Workplace (91 – 99)
10 | Key Takeaways (and what’s next!)
1. Three in five companies say that phone systems are amongst their most urgent priorities for investment
2. Just 26% of US companies provide mobile phones for their employees
3. 98% of enterprises report that their employees use smartphones for business purposes
4. 87% of companies expect employees to use their personal devices for business purposes
5. One quarter of a CEO’s time in a working day is spent on phone calls
6. 85% of employees use more than one device to communicate at work
7. Workers who feel their employers use mobile technology effectively are 23% more satisfied than those in companies where use of mobiles is “bad”…
8. …they’re also 21% more loyal, 18% more creative, and 16% more productive!
9. Mobile workers account for around three quarters (72.3%) of the US workforce
10. 70% of workers keep their personal phones “within eye contact” at work
11. 57% of employees multitask during work phone calls…
12. …but on video calls, only 4% do so!
13. Two-thirds (65%) of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone
14. 86% of calls to businesses are put on hold before the caller speaks to anybody…
15. …and almost a third (32%) of those callers will hang up immediately
16. 78% of people who text wish they could have a text conversation with a business
17. The first networked email system was established in 1971, by the late Ray Tomlinson
18. Around 306.4 billion emails are sent and received worldwide, every day…
19. …And by 2023, that number will be almost 350 billion
20. Only about a third (34.1%) of emails in North America are actually opened…
21. …and for professional services emails, that open rate is more like a fifth (20.89%)
22. There are more than four billion email users worldwide
23. By 2021, there are expected to be 7.71 billion email accounts
24. 42% of Americans check their business emails while in the restroom, and 18% do so while driving!
25. More than one half of emails are opened on a mobile device
26. 70% of people keep their work email inbox open all day…
27. …yet only 20% of them have some kind of plan or structure in place for dealing with those emails!
28. People spend an average of 17 hours per week reading, responding to, and sending work emails
29. That’s 11.7 hours a week at work, and 5.3 hours of the time they spend working from home, just answering emails…
30. …and 30% of the time, those emails aren’t even urgent!
31. In fact, only about 38% of the average inbox contains emails that are actually relevant or important
32. It’s no surprise, then, that 60.8% of employees ignore emails at work
33. Almost half (47.7%) of workers said that receiving fewer emails at work would increase job satisfaction
34. …and 26% of employees view email as a serious productivity killer
35. However, email is still preferred as the primary method of communication for 74% of adults
36. 30% of employees don’t check their work emails outside of the office
37. 34% of workers sometimes ignore emails from HR…
38. …and 5.7% always ignore them!
39. In the case of a work emergency, 43.9% of people would prefer a text rather than an email
40. Regardless of the email’s importance, it takes an average of 64 seconds for a worker to ‘recover’ from an email interruption, and resume work as normal
41. Around 14.5 billion spam emails are sent every day…
42. …costing businesses about $20.5 billion every year in lost productivity
43. 70% of emails are opened within six seconds of receipt
44. Slack has more than 10 million daily active users across over 600,000 organizations…
45. …and more than 150 countries!
46. These users spend around 50 million hours on Slack every week…
47. …and send close to 1.5 billion messages on it a month
48. Slack users see, on average, a 48.6% reduction in office emails…
51. 550,000 teams are on the free version, while 88,000 businesses pay for Slack
52. Four out of five employees claim that using Slack increases transparency
53. And a similar percentage (79%) of businesses find Slack improves team culture
54. The average knowledge worker (think IT jobs!) ‘checks in’ with a work instant messaging tool (such as Slack) every six minutes…
55. And other business communication solutions, such as Office 365, can save businesses up to half an hour per day in lost productivity
56. Workers with team messaging are 23% more likely to work when out of the office than those without a similar business communication tool
57. However, productivity has been shown to increase (as much as 5%!) in a Slack outage. Too much of a good thing?
58. Perhaps not – Slack retains 90% of its customers!
60. Companies host an average of 61 meetings per month…
61. …though 73% of attendees do other work when in them!
62. Almost two thirds (62%) of employees aged 18–34 are motivated by team messaging and video meetings
VoIP Phone System Statistics
64. The amount of corporate VoIP subscribers worldwide is expected to reach 204.8 billion this year
65. Small businesses that switch to a VoIP telephone system can save up to 40% in local call costs…
66. …and 90% on international calls!
The State of Workplace Communication
67. Over the last 20 years, time spent on workplace collaboration and communication has increased by 50% or more
68. 63.5% of employees expect a response to an email or business-related instant message within the hour
69. However, three in four of those people have never spoken with a colleague about communication, or what a reasonable response time is!
70. Just 17% of employees believe their line managers are effective communicators
71. Company intranets are used on a daily basis by just 13% of employees…
72. …while almost a third (31%) of workers admit to having never used their organization’s intranet at all!
73. On average, only 21% of organizations keep their workplace communications simple and jargon-free
The Importance of Good Communication
74. 64% of businesses list communicating their “strategy, values, and purpose” to employees as a key priority
75. Leaders spend around 80% of the working day communicating
76. Employees that feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five (4.6) times more likely to feel empowered to deliver their best work
77. Organizations with connected employees show productivity increases of 20–25%
The Cost of Poor Communication
78. Miscommunication in the workplace costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year
79. For larger companies, the average yearly cost of poor communication is more like $62.4… million!
80. 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work in an allotted time frame
81. 86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration for failures in the workplace
82. A huge 69% of managers are uncomfortable when communicating with their employees…
83. …and 16% shy away from face-to-face interaction, preferring email instead
84. 39% of employees around the world feel that people don’t collaborate enough within their organization
85. Yet, 75% of employers rate collaboration and teamwork as ‘very important’…
86. …but only 18% of employees are evaluated on their communication skills in performance reviews
87. One in two (49%) of millennials support the use of social tools for communication in the workplace…
88. …and more than a third (36%) of that same demographic spend two or more hours a day checking their personal phone
89. The average employee spends around 20% of their time searching for internal information, or tracking down colleagues for help with specific tasks
90. 97% of workers believe communications impact tasks every day
Engagement in the Workplace
91. An enormous 70% of employees in the US are not engaged at work
92. On the flipside, those who are engaged are 27% more likely to report “excellent” performance
93. 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than to read a similar message in a web article or email
94. Only 34% of employees have spoken with their manager about their struggles with distraction in the workplace
95. 55% of employees feel that a mobile app would help them be more engaged with their company
96. High-performing organizations are 80% more likely to have a process for crafting excellent corporate stories
97. 93% of industry professionals attest to the importance of creativity in internal communications…
98. …but only 6% of them believe that that creativity is used to its full potential!
99. On top of this, 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy or vision for their internal comms
So, what did we learn from this data-driven foray into the convoluted canvas of company communication? In this 99 fact exploration of corporate storytelling, what story of its own does our list have to tell?
Firstly, it’s that most US businesses aren’t good enough when it comes to communicating with their employees. The organizations with effective, creative internal comms strategies are the ones succeeding, while businesses with poor communication techniques are also dogged by missed deadlines, lower employee engagement, and a lack of confidence in managers and colleagues.
The data also raises a few questions.
Is it time, for instance, to start harnessing the potential of video to increase employee engagement? Should email still be a business’ primary form of communication? Does a more modern tool such as Slack require checks and balances to ensure its effective use, or do VoIP phone systems represent peak productivity going forward?
We’re answering all these questions and more in an upcoming article, where we’ll unpack the statistics in full, and offer up insights that’ll help you supercharge your own workplace communication. In the meantime, why not share this article, or Tweet me at @robdbinns with your thoughts. Until next time!