The Importance of Effective Workplace Communication – Statistics for 2022

communication in the workplace statistics

In 2020, the entire world became reliant on technology to stay connected. Here are some eye-opening stats to prove it…


The Changing State of the Workplace

COVID-19 has completely changed the workplace climate. With so many people working from home, we’ve seen lounges turn into offices, and bedrooms used as conference rooms. This has greatly affected the way we communicate.

In the US, 42% of the labor force was working from home full-time in summer 2020. That’s almost half the working population forsaking face-to-face meetings for new technologies in order to connect with clients, customers, and colleagues.

The working from home trend isn’t likely to end soon, either. This will bring about new opportunities for businesses, but also some challenges.

We’ve collected our own data on remote working (plus some other eye-opening statistics on communication in the workplace) and provided tips on how to perfect your own workplace comms.


10 Key Workplace Communication Statistics

How is the working world communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what are the common trends?

Here are the key findings from our own study:

  • For keeping in touch with colleagues during COVID restrictions, 67% reported using Zoom and email, followed closely by Slack.
  • 74% of business owners and CEOs said all employees at their company were working remotely. Before the pandemic, only 7% of participants said the majority of employees were working remotely
  • 72% anticipated that employees will want to remain working from home, even once the organization returns to the office.

And here are other crucial statistics on workplace communication

  • 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main causes for workplace failures.
  • Improved internal communication can improve organisational productivity by as much as 25%.
  • 97% of employees believe communication impacts their task efficacy on a daily basis.
  • Communications barriers could be costing businesses around $37 billion a year.
  • 16% of managers would prefer email interactions as they end up feeling uncomfortable.
  • When employees are offered better communication technology and skills, productivity can increase by up to 30%.
  • 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.

Why Effective Communication Matters in the Workplace

With the sudden move from office-based collaboration to remote collaboration, some businesses have struggled to maintain best practice in terms of communication. Below are some stats that highlight how communication can benefit your business.

Increases Productivity

  • Organizations with connected employees show productivity increases of 20-25%.
  • 64% of businesses list communicating their ‘strategy, values, and purpose’ to employees as a key priority.
  • 97% of workers believe that communication impacts tasks every day.
  • When employees are offered better communication technology and skills, productivity can increase by up to 30%

Increases Team Building and Trust

  • 86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration as reasons for failures in the workplace.
  • Employees who feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five times more likely (4.6x) to feel empowered to deliver their best work.
  • 39% of employees around the world feel that people don’t collaborate enough within their organization, yet 75% of employers rate collaboration and teamwork as ‘very important’.

The Cost of Poor Communication in the Workplace

  • 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.
  • Miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.
  • Communications barriers could be costing businesses around $37 billion a year

How Employees and Managers Prefer to Communicate at Work

Employees like communication, it makes them happier and more efficient:

  • Harvard Business Review cites that 72% of employees feel their performance would improve if their managers were to provide corrective — sometimes also dubbed as “negative” — feedback.
  • A study by Officevibe shows that 43% of highly engaged individuals receive feedback at least once per week, in contrast with only 18% of low-engaged individuals.
  • A report by Trade Press Services shows that as many as 85% of employees claim they are most motivated when regularly updated about company news and information.

According to Gallup, team members with higher levels of engagement:

  • produce substantially better outcomes
  • treat customers better and attract new ones
  • are more likely to remain with their organization
  • are healthier and less likely to experience burnout

Managers:

  • 69% of managers are uncomfortable when communicating with their employees, with 16% preferring email to face-to-face interactions.
  • one Gallup estimate shows that only 50% of employees know what their managers expect from them.
  • 73% of employers want employees with strong written communication skills, as found by the National Association of Colleges and Employees.


Remote Working and How COVID Impacted Workplace Communications

We wanted to know how many companies are currently working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We surveyed 100 businesses based in North America and Europe, from a range of industries, asking them how they’ve found the switch to remote working, and what their plans for the future are. Here are the key findings:

research findings on remote working during covid-19

74% of business owners and CEOs said all employees at their company were working remotely. Before the pandemic, only 7% of participants said the majority of employees were working remotely

72% anticipated that employees will want to remain working from home, even once the organization returns to the office.

The overwhelming majority of businesses (90%) saw positive benefits in working from home, including an increase in employee engagement and happiness.

Yet, at the same time, 71% said they’d witnessed negative impacts, such as a reduction in productivity, difficulty in maintaining the work/life balance, and difficulty in assessing accountability.

63% of businesses were unsure when their employees would return to the office, but most expected it would happen somewhere between January and spring 2021.

For keeping in touch with colleagues, 67% reported using Zoom and email, followed closely by Slack. Skype, which has seen a fall in popularity over recent years, was only reported by 12.7% of respondents.

Kevin Miller, founder and CEO of online tool The Word Counter, commented on the challenges they’ve faced while working remotely:

It has been a challenge to determine exactly how productive all of my employees are. Creating check-in times and assigning clear deliverables has been very helpful for accountability but that is the toughest part of having my workforce be at home. We have every task assigned in Basecamp to keep things tracked and organized.

Aleksandra Horwood, of Happy Stance Yoga Therapy, commented on the pros of remote working:

Remote working has given us more chances to reconnect with our true motivation, why we do what we do, and refresh that initial spark. This pandemic has simply hardened our resolve in realizing that we always need to be on our toes to be at the forefront of our industry. Someone said to me once, If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes… COVID-19 has proven that to be so true!

While COVID-19 may have been the catalyst for this workplace exodus, the fact that the pandemic is winding down does not mean that everything is going back to the way it was. Around 20-25% of workplaces could run just as efficiently under a hybrid working setting, with many large companies, like Amazon, leading the charge in the work-from-home movement.

92% of people are expecting to be able to work from home at least once a week, with 80% expecting at least three days a week at home. Now that employees are reclaiming some of their time, they're realising the benefit of personal time instead of work time. When asked if they'd prefer a salary increase or a four-day workweek, roughly 50% of people took the four-day week.

It's pretty much unanimous at this point – the average worker loves working from home, at least partially. 98% of workers would like the ability to work from home (at least partially) for the rest of their career, and 97% of people would recommend it to others.

Statistics on Workplace Communication Technologies

With fewer face-to-face meetings than ever before, organizations have been even more reliant on technology. Below, we'll quickly discuss the most popular videoconferencing brands and their meteoric (yet necessary) rise in usage due to COVID-19. After that, we'll show you some awesome stats on email, VoIP, and phone communication.

Workplace Communication Programs

Zoom

Few phenomena have taken over the COVID-19 discourse like the ‘Zoom boom’. Zoom quizzes, drinks, and catch ups have become so common that the company’s revenues have jumped by 169%.

In 2020, Zoom predicted that it would gain up to $1.8bn in revenue for that year.

Skype

Similarly to Zoom, there has been huge hype around Skype. Microsoft’s video calling service reported 40 million daily users in March 2020, up 70% from the previous month.

Google Meet

Google’s video conference tool has also seen a meteoric rise in usage, with its daily usage rising by 25% from January to March 2020.

Slack

The ever popular workplace communication tool reported that it added 9,000 new paid customers between February 1st and March 25th 2020. That represents an 80% increase over the last two financial quarters. As of 2020, over 750,000 organizations use Slack (112,000 of these are ‘paid’ organizations).


Email Stats

How many emails do we send and receive each day, and just how much of our time and profits are unwanted emails wasting?

Quantity

With over 4 billion email users in the world, it's no surprise that email is one of the most used methods of contact. In fact, email is the primary method of communication for remote workers, followed by instant messaging and video chat. However, even though 333.2 billion emails are sent and received worldwide, every day, only about a third (34.1%) of emails in North America are actually opened.

Usage

People spend an average of 17 hours per week reading, responding to, and sending work emails. This is far easier now than it was even a decade ago, due to the ease of checking emails on mobile devices. In fact, more than one half of emails are opened on a mobile device. This allows 42% of Americans to check their business emails while in the restroom, with a condemnable 18% even doing so while driving.

If you needed another sign of how easy it is to access someone through email nowadays, the fact that 70% of emails are opened within six seconds of receipt should tell you everything you need to know.

Usefulness

However, as we all know, not every email that is sent is worth reading. Only about 38% of the average inbox contains emails that are actually relevant or important. It’s no surprise, then, that 60.8% of employees ignore emails at work.

Almost half (47.7%) of workers said that receiving fewer emails at work would increase job satisfaction, and 26% of employees view email as a serious productivity killer. However, email is still preferred as the primary method of communication for 74% of adults, and 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.


Phone Stats

Phones are absolutely everywhere – but do they belong in the workplace? What attitudes do employers hold towards mobile work, and how good are we at picking up the receiver?

Usage

Three in five companies say that phone systems are among their most urgent priorities for investment. Despite this desire, only 26% of US companies provide mobile phones for their employees. This discrepancy may be because 98% of enterprises report that their employees use smartphones for business purposes, and 87% of companies expect employees to use their personal devices for business purposes.

It's not just standard workers who are expected to use their own phones. One quarter of a CEO’s time in a working day is spent on phone calls.

Phones aren't perfect. They leave a lot of wiggle room, with 57% of employees multitasking during work phone calls, and 86% of calls to businesses being put on hold before the caller speaks to anybody. In this case, almost a third (32%) of those callers will hang up immediately.

Preference

Speaking of customers, it's worth mentioning that two thirds (65%) of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone. However, 75% of millennials don’t like making or taking phone calls because of its time-consuming nature. 78% of people who text wish they could have a text conversation with a business.

Looking at workers' preferences, 70% of workers keep their personal phones “within eye contact” at work, and 85% of employees use more than one device to communicate at work

Workers who feel their employers use mobile technology effectively are 23% more satisfied than those in companies where use of mobiles is “bad.” They’re also 21% more loyal, 18% more creative, and 16% more productive!


VoIP Stats

29% of companies have switched to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) office phone systems because they make it easier to forward calls to their mobile phones. The expected market value for VoIP worldwide is expected to reach $127 billion this year.

Small businesses that switch to a VoIP telephone system can save up to 40% in local call costs, and 90% on international calls!


Key Takeaways

From our own research and the stats provided, the first thing that becomes clear is that US businesses aren’t good enough when it comes to communication with their employees.

The organizations nailing their communication are the ones succeeding, while those with poor communication techniques are typically dogged by missed deadlines, lower employee engagement, and a lack of confidence in managers.

What about the future? It looks like remote working is here to stay. Our research revealed that 72% of business owners and CEOs anticipated that employees will want to remain working from home, even once the organization returns to the office.

And while the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, we can be sure that video conference software such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet will remain vital for communication in the workplace, and across the world.

Tips for Effective Communication in the Workplace

Face-to-face meetings: Despite all the technology we've discussed, sometimes the best thing for a team or individual is a face-to-face meeting. Whether this is a team of 10 getting together to recap on their progress, or a one-on-one meeting between an employee and their manager, the benefit of these meetings cannot be understated.

These meetings don't have to be in person. A Zoom call or Google Hangout can achieve the same effect. It's just helpful to foster an environment where people can voice issues or raise questions that don't warrant an entire email, or are harder to convey over text.

Manage time effectively: That said, meetings aren't the solution to every problem. We've all only got a limited amount of time to work each day, and having this time get consumed by useless meetings will only lead to slower workflow and frustrated employees. 71% of workers claim that their time is wasted due to unnecessary meetings.

“This meeting could have been an email” is a common sentiment among workers who find their workflow constantly stunted by half-hour meetings that could have been summed up in a sentence or two. Make sure that you're aware of peoples' time allowances, and plan accordingly.

Make it a conversation, not a lecture: Your team is (hopefully) made up of adults, so there's no need to make every interaction into a drawn-out, classroom-esque lecture. Obviously there will be times where a presentation or two is necessary, but it's a lot more engaging for everyone if they're given the opportunity to voice concerns or ask questions.

Make sure training is airtight: 59% of employees claim that they received no little to no training when starting a new job, with 87% of millennials believing that learning and development in the workplace is an important part of employment.

Investing a solid week or two into properly training a new employee might sound tiring or like a waste of time, but it will make the entirety of their remaining employment far easier for both parties. Communication won't be bogged down by constant questions and mistakes, and everything will flow far easier.

Diplomacy is key: It's a fact that every workplace is going to have a conflict or two. 85% of employees experience some kind of conflict during their tenure at a business, with 49% of these being caused by clashings of egos and personalities.

These issues are always going to be harder to navigate than a standard workplace issue, so it pays off to sincerely listen and cater to both sides (as long as one side isn't being openly ridiculous).

Duncan Lambden
Duncan Lambden Senior Writer

Duncan (BA in English Textual Studies and Game Design) is an Australian-born writer for Expert Market. His articles focus on ecommerce platforms and business software that allows small businesses to improve their efficiency or reach, with an emphasis on invoice financing and customer relations. He has written for Website Builder Expert and Tech.co, and has been featured in Forbes. In his free time, Duncan loves to deconstruct video games, which means that his loved ones are keenly concerned about the amount of time he spends looking at screens.