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Analyzing over 800,000 Zoom meetings: How COVID has changed collaboration

If 2020 had a single technology buzzword to define it, “Zoom meeting” was probably it. When the pandemic sent millions of people home to work remotely, the video conferencing platform served as a critical tool to keep teams united and communications flowing. 

IT leaders needed to be able to show the impact of remote work on productivity. Are you enabling collaboration across your tens of thousands of employees? Are your IT tools and applications helping employees work remotely? Our clients have invested in  Productiv SaaS Management to take a data-driven approach to help their employees get the most out of their SaaS applications, whether they are at home, or (eventually!) back in the office. 

We wanted to dive in deeper and see how Zoom behavior changed during the pandemic. The Productiv platform analyzes over 100M data points each day, providing in-depth details on how applications are being used and what features have the most engagement. 

We analyzed over 800,000 meetings from one enterprise technology client. The data was from two 30 day periods – one in January 2020 (about a month and a half prior before many nationwide lockdowns) and one in December 2020. Here’s a quick peek at our data findings to see exactly how user behaviors have changed. 

  • Overall number of Zoom users increased
  • 1:1 collaboration skyrocketed
  • Video and screen sharing decreased
  • Recorded meetings nearly tripled
  • Other Video Collaboration tools also increased

Overall User Growth Increased

Before the pandemic, Productiv data shows that about 25,000 of the company’s employees were using Zoom. By mid-December, that number had climbed to about 35,000 users. 

This overall growth alone underscores the importance of having connectivity tools like Zoom when teams suddenly go remote.  

One-on-one Collaboration Skyrocketed 500%

We saw a dramatic increase in the number of internal meetings. Prior to the pandemic, 25,000 users had roughly 62,000 internal meetings (meetings between employees). By December, that number had jumped more than 500% to 452,000 meetings! 

This is another hallmark that demonstrates the increased reliance on Zoom as teams navigate the remote work waters. 

The biggest driver of these meetings was meetings between two people. 69% of these internal meetings were 1:1 meetings. Since people could not simply walk by someone else’s desk, they needed Zoom for these small conversations. 

How many people are in each Zoom meeting. Over 450,000 1:1 meetings in the December 2020 data set (Source: Productiv Analytics)

The Types of Meetings Changed

One surprising area was the number of external meetings actually decreased slightly. While internal meetings and the number of users jumped dramatically, we saw the total number of external meetings drop by almost 15%. In January, 72% of meetings had external participants, and that dropped to 23% in December. Likely many companies were focused on managing existing costs and processes, and external partners became a lower priority. 

How many meetings included external participants. This dropped by 15% even as the total Zoom users increased by 40%. (Source: Productiv Analytics)

The only increase in external meetings was large meetings (over 6 people), which jumped from 19,149 meetings to 41,898 meetings. This implies that employees had less time for small catch-up meetings, and focused on larger alignment meetings. 

Larger Meetings Increased

How do you align overall departments and larger teams when everyone is remote? Marketing or engineering teams cannot have daily stand-up meetings in the same way. Not surprisingly, we saw a jump in larger group meetings. Specifically, internal meetings of over 6 people increased from 2% to 10% between January and December. These large group meetings also had much higher percentages of screen sharing (77%) and video (83%) compared to the average. The shift to remote work created a lot more need for alignment across larger teams. 

Shift in percentage of larger internal meetings. Over 10% of internal meetings were over 6 people in December, up from 2% in January. (Source: Productiv Analytics)

Video and Screen Sharing Decreased

With more people working from home, collaboration becomes tougher. Surprisingly, even with the lack of face to face meetings, Zoom video usage declined. We can surmise that one reason for this is that people are no longer getting dressed up to go to work. 

As for the decrease in screen sharing, this could be directly related to an increase in one-on-one meetings. Check-ins are usually informal and don’t usually require the same tools and materials as, say, presentations. 

Again, this illustrates Zoom’s increasing role as a tool to keep co-workers and team leaders connected outside the office.

How employees used Zoom pre-COVID and mid-COVID. Percentage of users hosting meetings, sharing screen, and using video all decreased. (Source: Productiv Analytics)

Recorded Meetings Nearly Tripled 

In January 2020, about 8% of users were recording meetings. By December 2020, that number had nearly tripled to 22%. 

This trend aligns with one of the biggest downsides of remote work: not having teammates or other resources within arm’s reach at all times. 

The increase in recordings demonstrates a desire to document conversations to refer to them later. This could be helpful in reducing the need for taking notes during meetings, as well as helping meeting leaders holding team members accountable.

Shift in percentage of users recording meetings. Over 22% of meetings were recorded in December, up from 8% in January. (Source: Productiv Analytics)

It Wasn’t Just Zoom

Most organizations have multiple options for collaboration. Zoom may be the best known video collaboration platform, but we wanted to see if other video collaboration platforms showed the same trends. The number of Google Meet users jumped from 4,000 to 10,000, and the number of users attending, sharing screens, and audio more than doubled in each metric. Interestingly, Google Meet saw overall increases in both internal and external meetings, as well as 1:1 and large meetings. Many of these employees also had access to Zoom, but Meet may have been a simple solution if they were already working in G-Suite. 

Number of users for Zoom and Google Meet and overlap between the two tools (Source: Productiv Analytics)

Final Thoughts: Leveraging Data to Improve Remote Work

There’s a lot that app usage data can tell us, especially when we compare this data before and after significant company events like a sudden shift to remote work. 

In this case, there’s no doubt that Zoom has been a valuable investment for this company because more of its workforce is using it more frequently now that many are working from home. It indicates teams are staying connected and being productive, even while working independently. Most importantly, it serves to explain what’s happening in the organization, which is an essential starting point in understanding the why.

What else can your app usage data reveal? Sign up for Productiv Essentials, our free product available to everyone and start seeing your Zoom data in more detail.