Over a year since the first stay-at-home orders were enacted across the country, most have gotten fairly accustomed to working from home. Many, in fact, have found that they prefer it. Some have even gone so far as to suggest willingness to take a pay cut in order to have the flexibility to work remotely from wherever they like. Companies, in turn, have learned how to operate just as well outside of a physical office, setting up a long-coming cultural reckoning about the necessity of the traditional office structure. 

However, despite smoothing the creases of work-from-home culture over the last few months, many continue to adapt to changing norms of how to best keep in touch with coworkers and colleagues. And, in order to see how those trends have changed since this time last year, CivicScience took a second dive into remote interoffice communication.

Since a large proportion of people continue to work from home, telecommunication software has remained an important tool. 

As the data show, video calls have increased five percentage points, while all other options have fallen at least a few points. Mimicking the dynamics of an in-person conversation seems to have increased in importance, as opposed to forms of communication that don’t involve being able to see the person or people you’re speaking to. 

And similar to last year’s data, the higher income is, the more likely workers are to use video calls, while regular phone calls are more common among lower-income groups (email, unsurprisingly, is equally used among all income groups). 

This isn’t to say, however, that video calls are everyone’s preferred method of communicating with their coworkers. In fact, only 9% of people prefer video calls as a method of daily communication with coworkers, while nearly half (49%) prefer email. 

And if you’re curious about how that trends across age, you’ll find that while email is most common among all age groups, the youngest workers prefer video calls more than other demos, while regular phone calls are most popular among the oldest. 

Time to Zoom In

Regardless of the limited preference for it, people are primarily using video calls to communicate with their coworkers on a day-to-day basis, and Zoom is by far the most popular platform. 

And if we look at this trend across age and income, we see a few interesting data points.

Use of Zoom as the primary video conferencing tool has nearly doubled, if not more, among all respondents 25 and older. Microsoft Teams has also seen a large jump from last year across all age groups, most notably among those 35 and older. Perhaps companies with an older average employee age dragged their feet adopting video conferencing policies and platforms early in the pandemic, but have since adopted them en masse, recognizing their value in replacing in-person interactions. 

Across income, we see similar trends. 

Use of Zoom has increased significantly across income demographics, as has Microsoft Teams, while all other video conferencing software has dropped to marginal percentages. 

The Problem With Constant Communication

The tricky thing about telecommunication technology making everyone so immediately accessible is that…everyone becomes immediately accessible. As a result, more than half (56%) of the population working remotely feels compelled to at least sometimes work more than they normally would, and outside their regular hours.

This trend is even across income groups, and is most prevalent among those 35 to 54.

And despite missing seeing people in person, most remote workers have found that they don’t miss in-person meetings at all. 

Surprisingly, it’s the youngest demographics that significantly miss in-person meetings. Perhaps, for those youngest workers, in-person meetings were part of their day-to-day socialization, while older workers require less of that same in-person interaction.

Some companies are beginning to relax standards and develop back-to-work plans while other companies have altogether abandoned a return to work as we knew it. Time will tell how workplace culture will develop in a post-pandemic world, but if the last year is any indication, telecommunication is here to stay, even if people aren’t necessarily crazy about it.