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How COVID-19 is impacting workers’ calendars

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on April 21, 2020

At Clockwise, we optimize calendars for tens of thousands of users across companies including Slack, Asana, and Spotify. We wanted to see how COVID-19 was impacting people’s schedules and time allocation. Specifically, we wanted to know whether mandatory WFH is making workers more or less busy.

We found workers are definitely getting busier, working longer hours, and seeing our calendars get more chaotic.

What’s changed

Compared with February 23rd, the last relatively “normal” week, by the fifth week of March, we saw the average worker:

  • Spent 5% more time in meetings
  • Spent an extra 1-1.5 hours per week in team sync meetings, a 29% increase
  • Spent 24% more time in one-on-ones
  • Saw a 45% decrease in out of office events
  • Saw an 11% increase in Fragmented Time
how WFH impacts people's schedules

Lulu Tang

Digging into the data

By the fifth week of March, we saw the average employee was putting in an extra hour of work per week.

Here’s the data since November. The longer time horizon includes the winter holidays, Martin Luther King Day, and President's Day, which shows how different these trends are from normal.

average weekly total work hours

Lulu Tang

Total meeting time increased by 5%.

The sharpest increase we’ve seen correlating to COVID-19 dates is team sync events. The average worker is spending an extra one to one and a half hours per week in team sync meetings, a 29% increase.

hours in each kind of meeting starting in november

Lulu Tang

We’re also seeing a 24% increase in hours spent in one-on-ones since February. We saw a small peak in the third week of March when shelter in place was fully in effect in SF and being implemented in other cities. Many of those 1:1s might have been scheduled to discuss companies’ WFH policies.

hours in each kind of meeting starting in february

Lulu Tang

Unsurprisingly, we’ve also seen a 45% decrease in “out of office” events. We saw an interesting peak of about an extra hour of meeting time per week on average right before San Francisco mandated shelter in place.

Total event time, which was flat until COVID-19, is also increasing steadily.

This is also true of total work hours.

We’re also seeing Fragmented Time tick up.

fragmented, meeting, and focus time since february

Lulu Tang

Compared with February, 23% more workers have Fragmented Time on their calendars. And those with Fragmented Time on their calendars saw it go up by 11%. Fragmented Time is chunks of time to work that are shorter than two hours. It stands in contrast to Focus Time, which is two-hour or more blocks of time for focused work. More Fragmented Time is a predictable result of the influx of new events appearing on workers’ calendars.

To get at these numbers we looked at 17,000 users who were active every week in 2020 and normalized by each individual's working hours.

Going forward

If you feel like your calendar is getting out of control, it’s not just you! Calendars really are getting more hectic as a result of COVID-19. To help you get a grip on the chaos, try Clockwise for Slack or read our 3 ways to automate WFH for greater productivity.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is Head of Content at Clockwise where she oversees the Clockwise Blog and The Minutes Newsletter. She has covered business software for six years and has been published in Newsweek, Forbes, the Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

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