Virtual Meetings Surge in March Amidst Coronavirus ‘Social Distancing’

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Doodle Content Team

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

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The words ‘remote work’ and ‘virtual meetings’ are everywhere I look. When I check my daily news feed, remote work pops up in almost every story. When I get group messages from my family on Whatsapp lately, one of us is usually sharing links to news articles related to coronavirus and its impact on the economy, workplaces and people. 

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Since I’m curious by nature, I decided to dig deeper into what we’re seeing among our Doodle premium users – and if the current situation has led to a drastic shift from face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings. When I first looked at the data, I was shell shocked. But let’s dig into the numbers and you’ll see why.

For the purpose of this blog, we analyzed our platform data related to our Premium users (worldwide) and focused on the time period of March 1-20 (in comparison to the same time period in February).

March madness has a whole new meaning, with a massive jump in virtual meetings.

In March, we’ve seen a 42% increase in the number of virtual meetings – inclusive of both Group meetings and 1:1 meetings – created by Doodle premium users compared to the same period in February. This makes sense given that the majority of our premium users are business professionals.

Plus, a total of 1,309,165 minutes worth of meetings have been booked on Doodle this month. 

Given the current climate and the fact that nearly every business has moved to a fully remote operational model, ourselves included, it stands to reason that the number of virtual meetings will continue to grow – and rapidly. We’ll be monitoring this over the next few weeks and months to see how things change – and will report back here with updates.

Employees are carving out time for more virtual one-to-one meetings to stay productive and on-target for business growth.

I found it particularly interesting to see that the number of virtual 1:1 meetings in March increased by 33% month-over-month. Why is this so interesting, you might ask? When people work remotely, it can be tough to stay focused and productive. As such, people often get distracted by the many things in their homes (refrigerator, TV, partners, kids). And in some cases, people might be inclined to cancel 1:1 meetings to be able to do what they need to do (i.e. feed their kids lunch, homeschool kids while still also working from home, etc.). But our data indicates that employees are actually carving out more one-to-one time with their team members, colleagues, managers, customers, partners and others who are vital to perform their roles. 

Doodle Stats: growth in virtual meetings March 2020

Virtual group meetings are the perfect antidote to the loneliness of ‘social distancing.’

I’m no stranger to long-term remote work. In a previous role, I lived in London and worked remote full-time (while our UK office was based in Stansted). In the first few months, it felt new, refreshing and liberating to work remote full-time. But then the initial excitement wore off and man, did things get lonely. So I know first-hand what a lot of folks are feeling right now. 

But what I didn’t have was a support system – virtually – among team members, colleagues, managers, customers and partners. As our data reveals, it’s a different state of affairs for remote workers currently affected by the coronavirus outbreak. In March, for example, we’ve seen a 48% increase in the number of virtual group meetings created by Doodle premium users, compared to the same period in February. 

What’s especially interesting is the huge spike we’re seeing in the number of virtual group meetings being scheduled for the sole purpose of ‘digital socializing’ to combat the loneliness of ‘social distancing.’ In March, for example, there has been a 44% increase in the number of group meetings booked specifically for virtual-only game, trivia and quiz nights. These types of social group meetings are being booked by employees here at Doodle too. (We love a good game).

Doodle Stats: Rise in Online Groups in March 2020

This month, we’ve also seen a 100% increase in the number of group meetings booked specifically for virtual-only yoga, dance, exercise, workout, fitness, aerobics, pilates sessions. Plus, we’ve seen a 296% increase in the number of group meetings booked as virtual-only happy hours, cocktail hours and wine/beer/drink socials in March, compared to the previous month. Just look at those growth rates – 100% and 296%, respectively. It speaks volumes to the positive attitude and mindsets of remote workers – and employees in general. Despite being stuck indoors and, in some cases, being trapped by country-wide lockdowns, people are tapping into the power of digital and groups to motivate each other – and stay fit, active, mentally engaged and motivated. 

Virtual happy hour to see on an tablet

People are being more protective of their time and practicing better time management skills. 

According to our data, virtual 1:1 meetings scheduled in March have been, on average, 6% shorter in duration than the previous month. This could be attributed to the fact that people are being more protective of their time and practicing better time management skills (i.e. keeping duration of meetings to the amount of time that’s actually needed to accomplish goals). This is something that is extremely important right now – the better we are at managing our time, the more focused and productive we’ll be. And the more we’ll all be able to feel fulfilled in our work and keep our career development momentum going. 

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