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15 Nov 16 New Yorkers tend to work through lunch

East coast people like to work through lunch

It’s been a few months since we’ve launched our new Gmail Meter platform and we’re very thankful for your support and feedback during our critical early stages. In the last couple of months, we have stabilized the platform and optimized our implementation of Google APIs. Finally, we are now ready to start sharing with you some of what we’re learning about email usage.

Introductory disclaimer

Before doing so, we want to be clear about the nature of the data and metrics that we will be presenting you today. We understand that email is an important communication vehicle that needs to remain secure. As the company that provides some of the world’s largest email providers with the most scalable email and contacts data import system available, we really do know how vital email is and rest assured in our utmost commitment to securing your data.

With that said, the following statistics are aggregations of the data used to generate your Gmail Meter reports. In the process of aggregating the data for the following analysis, we exclude the authentication information and thereby completely disassociating the data from the account.

During data aggegation, we have also isolated users who have a @gmail.com and @googlemail.com and excluded their data from the following numbers. This done under the assumption that any other domain name would be a custom domain name, which are used for business purposes and provide a better look at how our users email for work.

In addition, we do not store any of the end user data used to generate the reports and all such end user data is processed entirely in memory. We only store our generated calculations, primarily to be able to provide continued access to previous reports but also for potential future product changes that may require such data.

The following insights are merely guidelines and standards to compare oneself by. Because we try our best to keep the minimum amount of data on our users, we cannot define them any further than by general timezones. All geographic locations are suggested and approximated from the locale setting of the Google account. We currently do not have any plans to collect any data based on roles of our users and therefore cannot analyze to that granularity.

A few overall numbers and general trends

In this first of our series, we wanted to focus primarily on some of our largest populations – namely our users from the Central, Pacific, and Eastern timezones. And since there is just so much data to cover, today we’ll only be looking at habits regarding sending emails.

First, several general trends appear to apply to most of our population across all three timezones:

While there is a definite and significant decline in outgoing emails overnight, outgoing emails are sent out at every hour of the day for every timezone. Whether this is driven by the general population or by a small subset of outliers will have to wait until we can implement additional calculations into our analysis. Even so, this trend does speak to the general effect of globalization.

Of particular note for each timezone are the average hours of operation. While users from all timezones typically start their day around 6 or 7 AM, timezones can vary substantially in the ways that emails are sent throughout the day. Please also keep in mind that this data is the daily average for each month since July averaged again across months. We understand that these averages can fluctuate over different times of the year.

Below are overall statistics for each timezone, numbers are rounded for the simplicity’s sake.

Data on Gmail usage

US Central Timezone

We definitely wanted to take a look first at our own home timezone here in Chicago, which also has the smallest sample size of the three populations we’re looking at today.

  • While our users in the Central timezone send out the fewest number of emails compared to either coast, they still send out slightly more emails than the global average.
  • In addition, users from the Central timezone on send more emails per each recipient.
  • And Central users mostly send emails internally, implying that Central timezone users may rely on email for having longer conversations, potentially primarily with fellow team members.

US Central hourly sent emails

A look at the hourly histogram shows that the number of outgoing emails drops off dramatically after 4 PM, in accordance with the typical 8 hour work day. This is contrary to users from either coast as they appear to work longer days.

US Pacific Timezone

The second largest of our three user populations, our users from the Pacific timezone send out the most emails out of the three. This should come at no one’s surprise as adoption of technology is more prevalent on the west coast than anywhere else in the US. Our Pacific timezone users should also be commended for minimizing the amount of emails sent internally, potentially relying on other methods for internal communication (Slack being the obvious possibility).

US Pacific timezone sent emails by hour

Similar to Central timezone users, users in Pacific timezone have two separate peak times for sending out emails with the second peak being the larger of the two. A big difference, besides sending more emails overall, is that our Pacific timezone users email more regularly outside of the typical work hours. The overnight peak between the hours of midnight and 1 AM likely coincides with the beginning of the business day for GMT/UTC, implying that users on the west coast are more likely to collaborate internationally.

US Eastern Timezone

Our Eastern timezone users sit in the middle in terms of number of emails sent out and perform almost exactly according as the global average when it comes to emails sent internally versus externally. Interestingly, they also send on average the fewest numbers of emails per recipient.

US Eastern timezone sent emails by hour

To be perfectly clear, our title should actually refer to all users from the Eastern timezone instead of specifically New Yorkers. The above histogram looks a bit different from the two that we’ve already looked at. While the rate does slow down around lunchtime, there doesn’t appear to be a lunch break! In fact, there’s a steady and gradual increase in the number of emails through lunch – a phenomenon we have yet to find in any other timezone of users.

US Mountain Timezone

We didn’t want to spend too much time discussing our Mountain timezone users simply because we currently have very few of them. But the preliminary data appears to show that our users living the Rockies are some of the most prolific email users, and may actually send more emails than any other timezone.

US Mountain timezone sent emails by hour

But without more users, we won’t know how significant any of the data – and especially chart above – we’ve presented today is. As with most of statistics, early data can be very volatile and trends will stabilize as new data is collected. If you’re not currently a Gmail Meter user, please try our Gmail analytics tool to see how you compare to the users we’ve discussed today.

We’ll be publishing more interesting observations and trends in the future, with the hopes of getting a better understanding of how we all manage our emails and if there really is a better way to do so.

As always, we would love to hear your feedback. Please never hesitate to reach out to us via [email protected] or by tweeting us @GmailMeter. We also look forward to bringing you more news on some improvements we have in the works for Gmail Meter, please keep an eye out for updates!

Thanks for reading.

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8 Comments
  • Alexander Panzeri Photography
    Posted at 09:59h, 16 November Reply

    Can you do the same for Europe and the rest of the world????
    and when done maybe with a table to compare the different habitude???
    For example in my case I found useful to see when I answer, in particular today that I’ve contact around the world, and I need to catch the attention of my costumers.
    Well done Team

  • Jef A
    Posted at 19:27h, 16 November Reply

    I’m not surprised that the Coasts send more emails than the Midwest. People on the Coasts have a tendency to think everyone needs to know their thougths and opinions on anything and everything. ,They should have two mouths and one ear. Lol.

  • John Smillie
    Posted at 17:08h, 17 November Reply

    I can’t get my October report. Nothing came in my Gmail, and when I click on the link in the last email I got it is for September. When I try to generate a report off the website it just processes forever.

  • Krista
    Posted at 12:36h, 28 November Reply

    @ John Smillie – I had the same issue, and because I use multiple gmail accounts, it was conflicted. I opened a incognito browser, and the problem vanished. Also, make sure your two step verification is turned off. =) Hope that helps!

  • Samuel Lavoie
    Posted at 23:52h, 06 December Reply

    Interesting data Eric, looking forward to the rest of the serie! Can you clarifiy if that data is US only or does that include Canada emails too? We have a similar 4 timezones country too 😉

    “It makes sense that the region with the highest concentration of technology companies would also have especially good practices with email communication.”
    Great to see the data correlate with that, less internal emails and less overall emails for Pacific Timezone!

    cheers!

    • Eric Guo
      Posted at 10:54h, 13 December Reply

      Thanks so much Samuel for your vote of confidence!

  • Hugh
    Posted at 04:44h, 22 December Reply

    Ah, Email is only part of the communication equation…. Is anyone doing comparable analysis of twitter usage… so, i.e. do people switch from email to twitter at 4 Pm on eastern time?

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