To inform how we teach our Excel training courses and find out more about how people are using Microsoft Excel in 2022 we have conducted some new, original research.
In January & February 2022 we polled 1,000 office workers who use computers across a wide variety of industries to understand things like:
- How good are they at using Microsoft Excel?
- How much of your working day do you spend using Excel?
- How often do you have problems when using Microsoft Excel?
- How do you solve Excel problems when you’re stuck?
- How often do you see Excel spreadsheets with mistakes in them?
- What is the cost of the biggest mistake you’ve seen made in a spreadsheet at work?
For full details of our sample size and methodology and data analysis, see the bottom of this article.
This article will contain a breakdown of 3 areas of Excel research – use the Table of Contents to navigate around!
First things first, we looked at how competent people believe themselves to be at Excel.
How Good Are Peoples Excel Skills?
“How Good Are Your Excel Skills?”
More than half (57%) of people put their Excel skills at intermediate.
Another 27% of people rate themselves as advanced, meaning that 83% of people think they are either intermediate or advanced Excel users.
At the extremes of the spectrum, just 6% of people rate themselves as experts and 11% of people think that they are beginners.
Given how widely Excel is used, it is a shame that over 1 in 10 people feel that they only have beginners Excel skills.
Looking at the data in detail it was encouraging to note that men and women reported the same levels of Excel skills.
Excel Skills Split By Age
Looking at the data by age group we did find some interesting findings.
Older workers (>54 years old) have lower average levels of Excel skills with just 2% rating themselves as expert Excel users and 17% rating themselves as beginners.
By contrast, workers in the 35-44 years old range had the highest average level of Excel skills with just 7 % of them rating their Excel skills as beginner.
Categorising Levels Of Excel Skills
The following skills represent the levels of Excel skills.
- Carry out simple data entry.
- Format text and numbers as desired.
- Create simple charts
- Create absolute and relative cell references
- Use Quick Analysis Tools (QATs) to visualise data
- Use filter and sort when working with data tables
- Use conditional formatting
- Use basic formulas and functions
- Use logical functions like =IF
- Use lookup functions and data validation
- Use Pivot Tables
- Use controls
- Record macros
- Use VBA to control Excel
After establishing a baseline of peoples percieved Excel proficiency, we took a look at how much people are using Excel at work in 2022!
How Much Do People Use Excel At Work?
How Many Spreadsheets Do You Have Open At Any One Time?
This question was a very simple one.
We wanted to understand the number of spreadsheets people have open on their computers at any one time.
As can be seen, the most popular answer was two or three spreadsheets, with almost 2/3rds of people saying this was the case for them.
The average number was 2.6 spreadsheets.
Remarkably almost 1 in 20 (4.8%) people said that at any one time they would have more than 5 spreadsheets open on their computers.
Statistics like these explain why people sometimes say that they ‘live in Excel’.
How Many Times Per Hour Do You Look At A Spreadsheet?
This is a similar question to question 1 above. It is just trying to assess the amount of time people spend working in Excel.
In this case, the average and the most popular answers were quite different.
The average number of times people reported looking at a spreadsheet was 3.8 times per hour, so 16 minutes.
However, the most popular answer was ‘I look at a spreadsheet once or twice per day’ but heavy Excel users have dragged the average up substantially.
Just over 1 in 25 (4.2%) of people reported looking at a spreadsheet more than 20 times per hour!
Again, this just emphasises how much time people spend working in Excel at work.
What Proportion Of Your Work Involves A Spreadsheet?
Again, this is a question to look at the amount people use spreadsheets from a different angle.
This question asked people to estimate the proportion of their work that involved a spreadsheet.
As you can see, the most popular answer was 20% to 40%.
The average proportion of people’s work that involved a spreadsheet was 38%.
As with the above questions, there is a long tail over very heavy Excel users.
In this case 1 in 25 (4%) people work in Excel 80% or more of their working time!
For our last section – we took a look at how many people had specific Excel training.
How Many People Have Had Formal Excel Training?
Have you ever received formal Excel training?
This question was a very simple one. It just asked if people had every received any formal Excel training.
As you can see, just under half of people have ever received and formal Excel training.
We then analysed the answers to other questions like “What level are your Excel skills ?” to see if anything interesting came of in light of this answer.
As you would expect, it showed that expert Excel users are approximately 4x (400%) more likely to have received Excel training and beginners are 2.8x (280%) more likely to have not received any Excel training.
Finally, we analysed the answers to this question in light of our question about the proportion of time that people spend working in Microsoft Excel.
Again, the answers followed broadly what we would expect.
Namely that people who have received Excel training are more likely to be advanced Excel users and people who have not received Excel training are less likely to be heavy Excel users. It also highlights how low the level of Excel training is.
As mentioned above, this analysis does show that 38% of people who spend more than 50% of their time working in Excel have never had any formal training.
Given that they spend around 20 hours per week using Excel, if a one-day course speeded up their work by just 5% it would save them over a week of work each year.
Although, it looks like there is a reduction in the level of Excel training for people who spend more than 80% of their time this is open to question because the sample size at this level was so small. It is also possible that people who work intensively in Excel are self-taught – that is a question for a future survey.
To see analysis of our previous question click – How Good Are People At Using Excel?
Appendix: Research Methodology
The research for these Excel statistics was carried out during January and February 2022 using Pollfish.
1,000 office workers who work at a computer between the ages of 18 and 65 were surveyed. The respondents were split evenly between males (53%) and females (47%).
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