In 2020, the entire world became reliant on technology to stay connected. Here are some eye-opening stats to prove it…
The Changing Face of Workplace Communication
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.
Our Research on COVID-19 and Remote Working
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:
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!
The State of the Workplace
How is the working world communicating during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what are the common trends?
1. 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure.
2. In our recent survey, 74% of participants said that all the employees at their company are now working remotely. Before the pandemic, only 7% of participants said most employees were working remotely.
3. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29% of Americans can, or are able to, work from home.
4. Returning to work is currently at the forefront of many HR strategies – 64% of poll respondents said their organization had developed a plan, while 23% said theirs had not, and 13% didn’t know.
5. 63% of people in our survey were uncertain of when they will return to the office.
6. A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely have to work remotely at least part-time after the pandemic, versus just 30% before COVID-19.
7. Gartner also revealed that 16% of employers are now using technologies to monitor employees more frequently.
The Importance of Good Communication
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.
8. Organizations with connected employees show productivity increases of 20-25%.
9. 64% of businesses list communicating their ‘strategy, values, and purpose’ to employees as a key priority.
10. 97% of workers believe that communication impacts tasks every day.
11. 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.
12. Miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year.
13. 86% of corporate executives, educators, and employees cite ineffective communication and poor collaboration as reasons for failures in the workplace.
Increased Trust and Loyalty
14. 69% of managers are uncomfortable when communicating with their employees, with 16% preferring email to face-to-face interactions.
Giving Everyone a Voice
15. 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.
16. 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’.
Engagement in the Workplace
17. Employees who are engaged are 27% more likely to report ‘excellent’ performance.
According to Gallup, employee engagement is determined by factors such as feeling clear about your role, having the right materials to do your job, working with a common mission, and having strongly committed coworkers. It’s about communication.
Below, we’ve got some tips on how to keep your employees engaged while working from home:
Daily Stand Ups or Catch Ups
You don’t need to actually stand up in front of your computer, but conducting regular ‘stand up’ meetings in which you exchange updates with your team can do wonders for your employee engagement.
These meetings also represents a great opportunity to raise any issues, concerns, or roadblocks, helping to boost efficiency for that week by giving everyone an opportunity to help solve problems together.
Regular Company Comms Messages
18. 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy or vision for their internal comms.
Our advice would be to provide weekly internal comms for your employees, or monthly at the very least. Doing so will keep your employees feeling valued, part of the team, and up to date on what’s going on during these crazy times. But how should you communicate your messages?
19. A recent survey found that 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read a similar message in written form.
20. 55% of employees feel that a mobile app would help them become more engaged with their company, too.
Utilizing Project Management Software
When asked about the challenges they face due to remote working, one of our survey participants said how important it was to use the right software:
Communication is pivotal for the success of remote teams, and adopting the right tools and software plays a key role in facilitating this. It is crucial to encourage easy and frequent communication among team members, as well as set up daily conference calls where the team can update each other of their progress and plan for the day.
Installing project management software such as Jira, Basecamp, and ProofHub gives your team a clear view of the progress of projects, while keeping everyone updated with who’s working on what, which can help reduce time spent asking unnecessary questions.
Frequent Check-ins from Managers
Organizing weekly check-ins with your employees gives both parties the chance to discuss any issues that otherwise may be forgotten about.
These check-ins may only be a simple chat about the working schedule, but you’ll find that short, regular catch-ups will help to build more transparency between line managers and employees.
Remote Working: Enabling Technology
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.
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.
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’s video conference tool has also seen a meteoric rise in usage, with its daily usage rising by 25% from January to March 2020.
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).
How many emails do we send and receive each day, and just how much of our time and profits are unwanted emails wasting?
21. Email is the primary method of communication for remote workers, followed by instant messaging and video chat.
22. Around 306.4 billion emails are sent and received worldwide, every day…
23. Only about a third (34.1%) of emails in North America are actually opened…
24. There are more than four billion email users worldwide
25. 42% of Americans check their business emails while in the restroom, and 18% do so while driving!
26. More than one half of emails are opened on a mobile device
27. People spend an average of 17 hours per week reading, responding to, and sending work emails
28. Only about 38% of the average inbox contains emails that are actually relevant or important
29. It’s no surprise, then, that 60.8% of employees ignore emails at work
30. Almost half (47.7%) of workers said that receiving fewer emails at work would increase job satisfaction…
31. …and 26% of employees view email as a serious productivity killer
32. However, email is still preferred as the primary method of communication for 74% of adults
33. 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
34. 70% of emails are opened within six seconds of receipt
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?
35. 75% of millennials don’t like making or taking phone calls because of its time-consuming nature
36. Three in five companies say that phone systems are among their most urgent priorities for investment
37. Just 26% of US companies provide mobile phones for their employees
38. 98% of enterprises report that their employees use smartphones for business purposes
39. 87% of companies expect employees to use their personal devices for business purposes
40. One quarter of a CEO’s time in a working day is spent on phone calls
41. 85% of employees use more than one device to communicate at work
42. Workers who feel their employers use mobile technology effectively are 23% more satisfied than those in companies where use of mobiles is “bad”…
43. …they’re also 21% more loyal, 18% more creative, and 16% more productive!
44. Mobile workers account for around three quarters (72.3%) of the US workforce
45. 70% of workers keep their personal phones “within eye contact” at work
46. 57% of employees multitask during work phone calls…
47. …but on video calls, only 4% do so!
48. Two thirds (65%) of customers still prefer to contact a business by phone
49. 86% of calls to businesses are put on hold before the caller speaks to anybody…
50. …and almost a third (32%) of those callers will hang up immediately
51. 78% of people who text wish they could have a text conversation with a business
53. The amount of corporate VoIP subscribers worldwide is expected to reach 204.8 billion this year
54. Small businesses that switch to a VoIP telephone system can save up to 40% in local call costs…
55. …and 90% on international calls!
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.