Research

Workplace Communication Statistics: Fresh Data for 2024

Roberta PhillipsRobert Brandl

By Roberta & Robert

workplace communication statistics

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The world of work is constantly adapting to new technology and ways of communicating. Digital communication tools can impact workplaces in several ways, but not always positively.

Sometimes work-related communications can make us more productive, with Grammarly reporting that 72% of business leaders noticed increased productivity due to effective communication. But in other instances, workplace communication can make us feel stressed and under pressure.

To understand how communication tools are used in workplaces and how they affect productivity and work-related stress, we’ve collated all the statistics you need, alongside new and up-to-date figures from our survey of over 1,000 U.S. workers.

Key statistics

  • Email is the most commonly used workplace communication tool, with 52.2% of employees using emails at least once a week.
  • The majority of workers (77.3%) say that digital communication tools improve their productivity.
  • Most workers prefer to communicate via email compared to other methods, with workers from seven in ten industries choosing email as their preferred communication tool.
  • People spend an average of 5 hours per week reading and writing emails at work, that’s 10.8 days over a year, or 432 days over 40 years of working.
  • Two in five (40.3%) people say that waiting for a response to an email causes them stress at work.
  • The majority of workers (63%) said that at least half of their colleagues are poor communicators.
  • Workers spend an average of 3.2 hours per week trying to understand poorly communicated information from their coworkers.
  • 91.2% of Gen Z think that baby boomers don’t embrace new technology at work.

Most common workplace communication tools

The most popular communication tool used in workplaces is email, with over half (52.5%) of workers saying they use email at least once a week. This was followed by cell phones (48.9%), instant messaging tools like Slack and WhatsApp (41.4%), and video calling tools like Zoom and Google Meet (40.9%).

Office phones were the least popular workplace communication tool among workers, with 38.1% of people using them at least once a week, although this is fairly close behind the other tools.

Only 9.4% of people said they don’t use any of these tools at least once a week.

most used workplace communication tools

Data note: Respondents could choose more than one option.

The use of tools like direct messaging has been on the rise in recent years, with daily users of Slack alone increasing from 8.7 million in 2019 to an estimated 38.8 million in 2024 (a 346% increase). (Source: Demand Sage)

Which tools do people like using the most?

As well as being the most commonly used communication tool at work, email is also the most preferred tool, with 34.2% of workers saying they like to use email more than other communication methods. This is followed by phone calls, with almost a quarter (24.1%) of people choosing this as their preferred way to communicate at work, although 38.1% of people use telephones at work at least once a week.

email is the most preferred workplace communication tool

Unsurprisingly, people working in the technology industry are the biggest users of email, with 58.4% of people in this industry choosing email as their preferred way to communicate.

Workers in most industries prefer to use email

Email is the most popular communication method in seven out of ten industries. Workers in business and finance, and sales and marketing prefer to use phone calls, while construction workers prefer in-person conversations.

Industry Preferred communication method
Administration Email
Agriculture Email
Business and finance Phone call
Construction In-person conversation
Healthcare Email
Hospitality Email
Manufacturing Email
Retail Email
Sales and marketing Phone call
Technology Email

People spend 5 hours using email each week

Most people (37.5%) spend between one and three hours per week reading and writing emails, however, the average number of hours people spend working on emails is five hours in an average week. That’s about 12.5% of a typical 40-hour working week.

The majority (38.4%) say they receive between six and ten work emails per day, followed by 32.4% who said they receive between one and five work emails each day.

2.7% of workers said they receive over 25 emails during a typical workday.

number of hours people spend working on emails per week

28.2% of meetings could have been an email

It’s a common complaint from office workers that their time is taken up by endless meetings about subjects that could have been summarized in an email. But which route of communication would workers take if they wanted to discuss a detailed work task with a coworker?

Most people (28.2%) said they would communicate about the topic over email, while 21.2% would speak with their coworkers in person. Scheduling a video call was the least popular choice, with only 14.1% preferring this option.

how workers communicate about detailed tasks

How digital communication impacts workers

Digital tools like email, video calls, and instant messaging have become staples in our work lives, particularly for those of us who work in office settings or remote jobs. But how much of an impact do these tools have on workers’ productivity and happiness at work?

Digital communication and productivity

For some people, writing emails, responding to instant messages, and joining video calls at work can break your concentration and reduce productivity, but that’s not the case for everyone.

Over three-quarters (77.3%) of workers said that digital communication tools improved their productivity, while 19% said they reduced their productivity, and 3.7% said they didn’t impact productivity.

how digital communication affects worker productivity

How does poor communication impact the workplace?

When looking at how well people think their coworkers communicate, the majority of workers (63%) said that at least half of their colleagues are poor communicators. 39.4% said that around half of their coworkers are good communicators, while a quarter (23%) said only 20% of their coworkers communicate well. Only 5.3% of people said that all of the people they work with are good communicators.

The majority of workers (30.5%) rated their manager a 2/5 for communication skills, indicating that they think their manager communicates poorly, and 9.9% rated their manager a 1/5 for communication.

Examples of poor communication at work

Poor communication at work can take many forms; it could be scheduling excessive meetings, giving unclear instructions, or failing to admit to mistakes. We asked workers which behaviors they would see as poor communication in their workplace.

The most common work behavior people think constitutes poor communication is writing very long emails, with almost half (47.7%) of people citing this behavior. This was followed by taking too long to reply to emails and messages (40.8%), and giving unhelpful feedback on work tasks (36.1%).

behaviors people class as poor communication in the workplace

Wasting time due to poor communication

We found that people spend 3.2 hours per week trying to understand or gain clarity from someone’s poor communication at work. Over half (51.6%) spend between one and three hours per week doing this, and 1.6% even said this takes up over 10 hours of their week.

3.2 hours per week trying to understand poor communication

Other research found that poor communication can cost a company more than 18% of the total salaries they pay each year. That means if your employees had the U.S. average salary of $59,384, the average loss from poor communication is $10,689 per employee per year. (Sources: USA Today, Inc.)

Workplace communications that cause stress

Waiting for a response to an email was the most common cause of workplace communication stress, with 40.3% of people saying that this caused them stress. This was followed by waiting for responses to direct messages (33.6%) and receiving an email marked as urgent (31.3%).

communications that cause the most stress at work

Alongside this, three-quarters (74.3%) of people say they feel pressure to reply to work emails as soon as possible, and 85.1% say they expect their coworkers to reply to their emails as soon as possible.

stress caused by seeing your manager typing a message

Four in five workers use emojis and memes at work

79.9% of people regularly use GIFs, emojis, and memes when communicating with coworkers during work hours. Gen Z are most likely to use these, with 92.7% saying they communicate with GIFs, emojis, and memes at work, followed by Generation X (81.5%). Women are also more likely to use these in work (85.4%) compared to men (76.1%).

workers who use emojis gifs and memes at work

Other research found that three-quarters (75%) of people do not consider the use of emojis or abbreviations like “LOL” to be unprofessional. However, 26% of people said there could be a misunderstanding in interpreting emojis or abbreviations in the workplace. (Source: Hult International Business School)

Generational stereotypes at work

We wanted to find out whether people believed common generational stereotypes about people in their workplace.

Nine in ten agree that Gen Z doesn’t like using the phone at work

90.1% of those we asked said they agreed with the stereotype that Gen Z doesn’t like using the phone and prefers communicating by instant messaging. People in the Gen Z age group (18-26) agreed with the statement the most, with 91.7% agreeing. Three-quarters (77.4%) of people in the baby boomer generation (aged 59-77) agreed with this stereotype as well.

However, other research found that 46.9% of Gen Z felt confident using the phone at work, and older millennials were the least likely to feel confident doing so (35.6%).

87.6% think baby boomers don’t embrace new technology at work

We also asked people whether they agree with the stereotype that baby boomers don’t embrace new technology at work. Younger people (aged 18-26) were most likely to agree with this statement at 91.2%. Baby boomers themselves were least likely to agree, although two-thirds (67.7%) still agree with this stereotype.

Nearly two-thirds of people have felt uncomfortable because of workplace communications

Workplace communication tools are most commonly used for harmless work tasks, but sometimes they can be misused. Our Office Communication Fails survey found that nearly two-thirds (65.4%) of people have been made to feel uncomfortable as a result of workplace communications.

Only 39.7% of workers feel confident answering the phone at work with older millennials being the least likely to feel confident on the phone.

Almost one in five (18%) admitted to using work laptops or phones to look at X-rated content, and 16.8% have forwarded an email chain to get a coworker in trouble deliberately.

Survey methodology

We surveyed 1,020 Americans in February 2024 to find out about their use of workplace communication tools and how they impacted them at work.

The authors

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Roberta Phillips

Marketing Manager

Hey, I'm Roberta! Having worked as a digital marketer for a host of online businesses, I've tried, tested, fallen in love with and despaired with so many marketing tools. I'm excited to help you find the email marketing and CRM tools you need to thrive.

Robert Brandl

Founder and CEO

Hello! I'm Robert, an email marketing expert with over 15 years of experience. After honing my skills at an agency by serving major corporations, I founded EmailTooltester as a passion project to help small and medium-sized businesses. Connect with me on LinkedIn where I regularly share my best email marketing knowledge.

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Our Methodology

This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

Our Methodology