Remote work has become the norm due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing employees to rely on video conferencing and digital collaboration tools for communication, an Aternity report found.

Zoom, in particular, has experienced explosive growth in the past month and a half, peaking at 574% of its base usage. While this platform has increased in popularity, it isn’t necessarily the most widely used service, the report found.

SEE: How to use Zoom: 15 tips and tricks (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

This report is the second volume of Aternity’s Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker. The first edition focused on business productivity around the world, determining that productivity was up in Canada, slightly lower in the US, and markedly lower in Europe.

The second volume, however, focuses on the worldwide growth of remote work and its impact on global work days and collaboration tool usage.

As stated in the report, “Now that the initial shock [of COVID-19] has worn off, working from home has become more productive with many workers embracing the lack of wasted time spent commuting, the more flexible working hours, and the focus on outputs over inputs. WFH has also changed the demands on different applications with, predictably, a significant increase in collaboration tools.”

Remote work around the world

Mid-March witnessed a major spike in remote work across the world. Now, the majority of employees in North America (85%), Europe (79%), China and Hong kong (64%), APAC (59%), and the Middle East and Africa (53%) are working from home, the report found.

This working style has caused shifts in the normal workday for employees in North America and Europe. The averages were calculated using the number of business activities such as sending emails or creating documents each hour.

Within the US, regions in the Northeast and West have shifted between 30 to 60 minutes, with workers starting later in the morning and finishing later in the evening, possibly because of the lack of commuting, according to the report. Canada displayed a similar shift to these regions.

In the Midwest, however, work is beginning much earlier, most likely due to the large manufacturing base in that area, the report found. Other US areas remained fairly normal.

In Europe, workdays varied most by country because of the unique work cultures and various severities of outbreak across the continent.

Remote workers in Spain and Sweden began their day one or two hours later in the mornings, ending later in the evening. Employees in France spread their work more evenly throughout the day, the report found.

Working day patterns in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands didn’t see much of a shift.

Collaboration tool growth and usage

To find the growth rate of collaboration tools, the report tracked platform usage from February 17, 2020 to April 6, 2020. The following six platforms had the highest average growth rates.

  1. Zoom (552%)
  2. GoToMeeting (442%)
  3. Microsoft Teams (439%)
  4. Cisco Webex (296%)
  5. Slack (215%)
  6. Skype for Business (166%)

While Skype for Business had the lowest overall growth rate, the platform had the highest share of usage by a wide margin compared to competitors, the report found.

Despite Zoom’s significant growth, it only holds a 7% usage share. The report found this was most likely due to enterprises being slow to move to new web conferencing tools, especially those that are Microsoft-heavy.

Here are the percent usage shares for the six major platforms:

  1. Skype for Business (57%)
  2. Microsoft Teams (23%)
  3. Cisco Webex (9%)
  4. Zoom (7%)
  5. Slack (3%)
  6. GoToMeeting (1%)

Looking at the average application usage overall, web browsing saw the highest spike in use. Specifically, the graph shows a 150% increase in non-work related web browsing right when the coronavirus outbreak first occurred. That usage has since plateaued, the report found.

Microsoft Outlook accounted for 38% of the total usage time, which makes sense as email correspondence becomes even more prevalent with remote work, according to the report.

For more, check out Video meetings are awful. Try these five tips to make them better for everyone on TechRepublic.

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Image: iStockphoto/AndreyPopov