Technology enables us to connect from across the globe without feeling the burden of distance. From quick, collaborative chat to reliable video conferencing, unified communications solutions have paved the way for a seamless transition to distributed work, supporting global teams of all locations and sizes.
As more businesses capitalize on the limitless possibilities of technology at work, it is critical to understand exactly how we use communication tools to collaborate with one another. Why? An inside look at communications activity from global workers both young and old, near and far can support teams to better navigate distributed work and conquer obstacles before they even arise.
The data behind global communications
In our recent study, Productivity @ Work: The Fuze Communications Index, communications data from more than five million workers across the globe, including 2.5 million meetings, 20 million calls and 33 million messages, uncovered ideal meeting times and lengths, best practices for maintaining employee engagement and productivity, and how culture impacts the way we work.
This data captures a large variety of demographic data and pieces it together to lay out a guide for global teams, unlocking potential productivity hacks and defining intentional communication methods.
Broken down by three key areas, here are some top-line insights:
Geographic stereotypes hold true in the U.S. in terms of meeting length, as southern and midwestern teams are likely more formal and polite, thus their meetings frequently run longer. For example, South Dakota tops the list with the longest average call length of 8 minutes and 15 seconds while Delaware has the shortest average call length at 1 minute and 24 seconds.
Comparing the East and West coasts, Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. is the best time to hold meetings on the West Coast, while East Coast workers’ top preference is Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m.
Average meeting lengths by country vary by approximately 17 minutes, ranging from 31.1 minutes in Norway at the low end to 48.3 minutes in Sweden at the high end.
Internationally, the average meeting length is just under 40 minutes, yet meetings are often defaulted to 30- and 60-minute blocks. Therefore, users should consider switching calendar settings to 25 and 50 minutes to ensure that meetings start on time by allowing employees adequate time to get from one meeting to another while catering to geographic preference.
By Communication Preference
One significant difference between countries is the preference to use video and screen share during meetings and calls. Highest usage of video is seen in Switzerland (59 percent) and Denmark (48 percent), while the countries with the highest usage of screen sharing are Germany (21 percent) and Spain (20 percent). Keeping these preferences in mind, ensure the right expectations are set for different meetings to drive engagement and productivity. For example, encourage teams to start a meeting with your video on if you are catching up with your colleagues in Switzerland or Denmark, but if you are meeting with a new team in Germany, stick to an audio only default and be prepared to screen share relevant content.
Video-and screen share meetings support employee engagement and meeting efficacy by reducing the opportunity for multitasking, a proven productivity-killer. When users include a visual element, attendees stay connected for 87 percent of the meeting. Without a screen share, they only remain connected for 75 percent of the meeting.
The impact of video use also affects meeting length, with findings that show if video is used at any point during a meeting, the length of the meeting increases on average by seven minutes or by 14 percent. The likelihood of workers using video varies throughout the day, too. At 8:00 a.m., workers are seven percent more likely to use video, but that rate doubles to 14 percent from 9:00–10:00 a.m., which is the most popular window for video chat.
As workers age, the percentage of meetings that they attend decreases, from 82 percent at age 15–24 to 75 percent at age 55+. This is likely due to an increased number of overall meetings as seniority level typically increases with age and experience.
Average call length is consistent across age groups, varying between 3.6 and 4.0 minutes, while the 55+ age group is the exception to this rule, with an average call length at 2.7 minutes.
Take advantage of the technology you invest in
Team leaders are tasked with keeping regular meetings on the books while still building time for team bonding. These goals, while seemingly intimidating, are made easier by understanding that although there are inevitable differences across global teams like time zones, communication does not need to suffer.
To take full advantage of a global workforce, communication and collaboration across teams should be approached as an opportunity, not an obstacle. Businesses should prioritize a workforce toolset that incorporates a comprehensive, flexible unified communications platform and work to understand workers preferences in order to capitalize on it. This mindset will build intention into all employee communication and allow for various methods of interactions, increasing flexibility and productivity based on demographic differences and individual preferences.
For more insights from Productivity @ Work: The Fuze Communications Index, read the report: