Communication Skills Statistics UK – Communication in the Workplace 2024

Good communication in the workplace can make us more productive, help build better team morale and professional relationships.

Poor communication, on the other hand, can leave employees and managers frustrated and mean we get less done.

But just how effective are we at communicating at work? Are we equipped with the skills we need? And are we overwhelmed by how many communication platforms we use?

We crunched the numbers, polled the public and present our workplace communication skills statistics for 2023.

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The Key Points

Communication 101 – be concise. So if you only want the quick facts, here are the key communication skill statistics you need for 2023 and you’ll find more detail within:

  • The most commonly used workplace communication channel in the UK in 2023 is email with 55.45% of people who communicate with others at work using it
  • Whatsapp comes in second place with almost half (44.91%) of people using it in their workplace communication
  • For 7.8%, handwritten letters and memos are still a method they use to communicate with colleagues, managers or clients at work
  • The fax machine may be on its way out but it’s not dead yet. Almost 1 in 20 still use fax in their workplace communicating
  • As of March 2023, almost 200,000 job listings for UK jobs on Indeed contain the term “communication skills”
  • 58,000+ specify “excellent communication skills”
  • 30,000+ specify “good communication skills”
  • By comparison, just 32,000 specify “graduate”
  • In 2020, “Zoom” was searched over 56 million times in Google globally

Communication is a key skill in todays workplace, and incredibly important if you want to learn how to lead.

Communication Platforms at Work

So how well we communicate may depend on how we’re communicating. Some people find it much easier to communicate face to face. Others are better in writing. And some fear the phone. But with so many different communication channels at work, we wanted to find out which are the most commonly used in the UK in 2023.

In March 2023 we polled 2,011 people in the UK aged 16 and over and we asked them:

  • What platforms, if any, do you use day to day to communicate with your colleagues and/or manager or clients at work? (Tick all that apply)
    • Email
    • Whatsapp
    • Text Message
    • Telephone calls
    • Face to face conversations
    • N/A I don’t work
    • Video calls
    • N/A I work alone and don’t have colleagues or clients
    • Comments and notes on documents shared online
    • Hand written letters or memos
    • Project management software
    • Slack
    • GChat
    • Fax
    • Other (please specify)

We’ve excluded the 21.63% who said they don’t work and the 9.50% who specified they work alone and don’t have colleagues or managers. From the remaining respondents, here’s what we found out about the communication platforms they use most frequently.

Platform % of those who work who use this in their workplace communication
Email 55.45%
Whatsapp 44.91%
Text Message 43.10%
Telephone calls 40.58%
Face to face conversations 38.27%
Video calls 25.34%
Comments and notes on documents shared online 8.74%
Hand written letters or memos 7.80%
Project management software 7.15%
Slack 5.99%
GChat 5.05%
Fax 4.77%

Communication In The Workplace Graph

Across all respondents, email is the most used workplace communication channel in the UK in 2023. But if we look in more detail at the statistics by age, we see variations.

 

Age Group Most commonly used channel for workplace communication 
16 to 24 Text message
25 to 34 Whatsapp
35 to 44 Email
45 to 54 Email
55+ Email

 

Email is the most commonly used communication channel for workers aged 35 and over. But for younger members of the UK’s workforce, more succinct and short text communication is favoured.

Amongst those aged 16 to 24, text message is the most popular channel (41.67%). While with those aged 24 to 34, Whatsapp is the most common (49.67%)

Email in the Workplace in 2023

Email. Can any of us even remember life without it? For many of us, our first day in a new role will involve getting a new email address set up! And for the majority of workers in the UK, email is part of their day to day communication toolbox.

In fact, 55.45% of those who communicate with colleagues, managers or clients at work use email. But it varies across age ranges:

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use email for workplace communication
16 to 24 37.50%
25 to 34 48.33%
35 to 44 56.88%
45 to 54 63.85%
55+ 65.59%

Email communication at work graph

Whatsapp at work?

We’ve already seen how text message and Whatsapp are more commonly used to communicate at work amongst younger workers. But the use of these channels is by no means exclusive to younger demographics.

In fact, Whatsapp and text messages are used in communicating at work by workers across all age groups. Here’s the breakdown according to the statistics from our survey.

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use Whatsapp for workplace communication % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use text message for workplace communication
16 to 24 38.89% 41.67%
25 to 34 49.67% 37.67%
35 to 44 48.70% 38.66%
45 to 54 42.31% 45.00%
55+ 43.53% 50.88%

Whatsapp workplace communication graph

Do we still pick up the phone?

Phone call anxiety is a thing for many. But we’ve probably all experienced exchanges of scores of emails where a five minute phone call would’ve been a far quicker means of communicating.

With the advent of short form text based communication in the workplace, how many of us are still picking up the phone to speak to our colleagues and managers?

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use telephone calls for workplace communication
16 to 24 26.85%
25 to 34 37.67%
35 to 44 38.29%
45 to 54 44.62%
55+ 50.59%

Phone communication at work graph

Telephone call usage at work follows a very distinct pattern. Our figures show that the older a worker is, the more likely they are to communicate at work through phone calls. In fact, while the majority of over 55s pick up the phone, only just over a quarter of those aged 16 to 24 do the same.

In other words, the over 55s are almost twice as likely to make a telephone call to chat with colleagues or managers as their young counterparts.

Face to face conversations

Covid meant that even the workplaces that hadn’t allowed any work from home previously now found themselves working remotely. And while many of us returned to the office after a couple of years or lockdowns, we’re still seeing higher numbers of people working remotely than pre-pandemic.

This will, of course, impact the frequency with which people meet with their colleagues or clients face to face. But scientific studies have often found a huge number of benefits of face to face interactions for humans.

Are we still communicating face to face professionally though? Here’s what the numbers show.

Nationally, across all ages, 38% of us use face to face communication at work. But again we see variations by age.

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use face to face conversations for workplace communication
16 to 24 30.56%
25 to 34 33.00%
35 to 44 37.55%
45 to 54 40.00%
55+ 47.06%

Face to face communication at work graph

Our statistics show across all age groups, communicating with colleagues and managers face to face puts you in a minority.

Again, we see that the older a worker is, the likelier he or she is to use face to face conversations for communication at work. But even amongst the over 55s, this figure is still below half (47.06%).

Face to face conversation is also where the vast majority of difficult conversations happen in the workplace.

Long live the Fax

Fax machines were, you’d be forgiven for believing, all but replaced by email. However, the humble fax machine is not yet buried.

Across all respondents, 4.77% (almost 1 in 20) still use fax in their workplace communication. Here’s the breakdown by age:

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use fax for workplace communication
16 to 24 10.65%
25 to 34 7.00%
35 to 44 4.09%
45 to 54 2.69%
55+ 1.18%

Fax communication at work graph

While many might consider the fax machine something of a dated piece of equipment now, it’s actually younger demographics who are most likely to use this in their workplace communication.

More than 1 in 10 of those aged 16 to 24 cited fax as a means of communication at work, while just 1.18% of those over 55 did.

Video calling at work

It’s a fair assumption that many of us encountered video calls over Covid and the various lockdowns. But how about in 2023? How many of us use video calls in our workplace communication?

Nationally, it’s 25.34% of workers. And here’s that split by age:

Age Group % of those who work alongside colleagues/managers who use video calls for workplace communication
16 to 24 25.46%
25 to 34 30.00%
35 to 44 30.11%
45 to 54 22.31%
55+ 19.71%

Video call communication at work graph

Just under a third of those aged 25 to 44 use video calls at work. A quarter of those aged 16 to 24 do so, while around a fifth of those 45 and over do.

But just which are the most popular video conferencing platforms? Let’s take a look.

Most Googled video conferencing platforms

Zoom’s share price went through the roof as lockdowns began hitting the world at the start of the pandemic. As everyone rushed to establish some sort of passable remote working infrastructure, companies that had never even entertained the possibility of “work from home” were now forced to do so.

With distributed workforces and teams came the increased need for efficient remote meeting and collaboration tools. Video conferencing software was right up there on the essentials list for many and Zoom emerged as a real winner from the pandemic.

To assess the popularity of various video conferencing solutions, we took their brand names and assessed how many searches were made for them in Google over recent years (using kwfinder.com).

Estimated Searches in Google Globally for Each of the Queries
Search Query 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
webex 6,746,000 6,218,000 36,950,000 26,000,000 14,533,000
go to meeting 8,512,000 8,103,000 18,886,000 8,357,000 3,594,000
microsoft teams 4,641,000 12,031,000 19,638,528 13,974,378 7,093,041
skype 146,740,000 79,180,000 136,820,000 68,320,000 55,450,000
google meet 1,185,000 2,088,000 9,283,027 11,058,611 5,865,215
zoom 41,240,000 41,980,000 56,400,468 30,938,625 17,256,309

Search volume for conference software graph

We can see that all of the video conferencing technologies outlined above saw notable growth in their brand searches in Google between 2019 and 2020, driven by the pandemic no doubt.

And while it was Zoom making the news for the most part, Skype is the platform that was being most searched and remains the most searched for.

In 2022, searches for “Zoom” were considerably lower than in 2018 and 2019 and this is a pattern we see across all the technologies above.

Of course, demand has dropped since the pandemic. But another reason we could be seeing fewer searches is that people now have such platforms on their devices already and as such do not need to search for them in Google.

Communication Skills in the Workplace

So we have plenty of technology to help us communicate, whether we’re in the same building as our colleagues or on opposite sides of the world. But just how important are communication skills in the workplace? And are we armed with them?

We took a look at jobs listings on Indeed to find all those that:

  • Contained “communication skills” within them
  • Were jobs in the United Kingdom

Indeed communication skills search

As of March 2023, this search returned 197,325 jobs. In other words, there are almost 200,000 job vacancies in the UK listed on Indeed that mention “communication skills.”

We went a step further to see how many employers specified “excellent communication skills” and found this was 58,120.

Indeed communication skills search

30,000 specify “good communication skills.”

Good communication skills indeed search

The types of jobs that ask for communication skills range from nail technicians to graduate finance roles, from engineers to administrators.

In other words, these skills are in demand in almost all job types.

For the purpose of comparison, we took at a look at how many job listings contain the word “graduate” and this figure was 32,214.

Based on searches made on Indeed in this way, it appears that communication skills are more in demand across a wider range of job types than degree level qualifications are.

Communication Skills Courses

Using a similar approach to that we did with the video conferencing platforms, we took to kwfinder.com to get estimates for the number of searches in the UK for “communication skills training” and “communication courses.” We found that in 2022, thousands of searches were made in the UK for such queries:

Query Estimated Searches in Google UK in 2022
Communication courses 8730
Communication skills training 3640
Communication skills courses 6700

 

Communication Skills in 2023

So our 2023 workplace communication statistics round up shows that workers are exposed to a whole host of different technology in order to communicate with colleagues and managers and the ability to do so effectively can vastly improve efficiencies at work.

The fax machine is (not quite) done and dusted just yet. But it seems younger members of the workforce are far likelier to drop a Whatsapp on their colleagues than they are to pick up the phone.

However we communicate though, one thing is for sure. The ability to do so in incredibly in demand in the modern working world.

Methodology and Caveats

Our survey was conducted on our behalf by Censuswide, whose employees are members of the Market Research Society. They polled a demographically representative panel of 2,011 respondents from their own survey panel in March 2023.

Respondents were permitted to select as many of the different communication channels as they use. However, both “N/A – I do not work,” and “N/A – I work alone and don’t have colleagues or clients,” were exclusive answers. In other words, if a respondent chose either of those, they could not then select any other answers.

With this in mind, in order to assess the most commonly used methods of communication in the workplace, we removed the 435 respondents (21.63%) who said they don’t work and the 191 respondents (9.5%) who work alone leaving us with 1,385 respondents, all of whom do work and do have colleagues or managers they communicate with on a day to day basis.

Keyword data was obtained through Mangools Keyword Finder.  To get estimated search volumes for any given year, we took the total number of searches in all months of a year and added them together. Where there were any gaps in data for certain search terms and not others, we took an average of all the available months in that year and assigned that value to the missing months.  This only applied to the “go to meeting” keyword data for 2018, where 3 months were missing data.

Want to learn more about communication and assertiveness? Check out our top 6 assertiveness tips here.

About Ben Richardson

Ben is a director of Acuity Training. He writes about SQL, Power BI and Excel on a number of industry sites including SQLCentral, SQLshack and codingsight.