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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 during our critical early stages, we’ve very much enjoyed your support and feedback. In the last couple of months, we have stabilized the platform by optimizing our implementation of Google APIs. And 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. This is because 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 metrics are aggregated using the data calculated at each Gmail Meter report generation, which is most typically the first of every month. Please note that none of the following data is at all related to any of our enterprise projects. The only link that associates the data generated within a report and the header data used to generate that report is handled through Google’s OAuth protocol. In the process of aggregating the data for the following analysis, we exclude the account information and thereby completely disassociating all data from the account.

In addition, we do not store any of the data used to generate the reports and all such data is processed 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 implied. We currently do not have any plans to collect any data based on roles of our users and 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.

During data aggegation, we have also isolated users who have a and and excluded their data from being aggregated. This done under the assumption that any other domain name would be a custom domain name, which are used primarily for work purposes.

There are some general trends that appear to apply to most of our population across all three timezones. While there is a definite and significant decline in outgoing emails overnight, there are also always outgoing emails sent out at every hour of the day for every timezone. Whether this is caused by the general population or by a small subset of outliers will have to wait until we can implement something like standard deviation calculations into our analysis. On top of that, analysis based on internally or externally delivered messages can potentially be skewing our data. Even so, this trend does speak to the general effect of globalization as there is an apparent need to communicate via email overnight.

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 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 the year, but will continue to even out as data is collected.

To start off, below are some overall statistics for each timezone. Numbers are rounded for the sake of clarity.

Data on Gmail usage

US Central Timezone

We definitely wanted to take a look first at our own timezone here in Chicago, which incidentally has actually the smallest sample size of the populations of the three timezones that we’re analyzing today. And to start right off the bat, our users in the Central timezone send out the fewest emails compared to users from the Pacific and Eastern timezones. Though, our Central timezone users should not be considered slouches as they do send out more emails when compared to the global average.

In addition to sending fewer emails, users from the Central timezone on average send more emails to each recipient. What is probably even more significant is that Central users send many more emails internally than when compared to other timezones and the global average. This data implies that Central timezone users often rely on email for having longer back and forths with fellow team members, which in turn could mean slower adoption of tools like Slack for internal communication.

US Central hourly sent emails

A look at the hourly histogram shows a rather typical distribution with two peaks, one on either side of the noon lunch break. It’s interesting to note that users typically send out more emails in the afternoon rather than the morning, but this makes sense as I know I personally like taking in a bit of caffeine after lunch as a pick me up.

The number of outgoing emails drops off dramatically after 4 PM, in accordance with the standard 8 hour work day but users from either coast tend to work longer days. Central timezone users do appear to regularly email outside of work hours until about 9 or 10 PM, at which time the number of emails decrease and stay at that level until the following day.

US Pacific Timezone

The second largest of our three user populations, our users from the Pacific timezone send out the most number of emails out of the three. This should come at no one’s surprise as our technology industry is heavily centered on the west coast and adoption of technology is much more prevalent. Our Pacific timezone users should also be commended for minimizing the amount of emails sent internally, which is also to be expected as the headquarters for companies like Slack and Asana lie within this timezone. It makes sense that the region with the highest concentration of technology companies would also have especially good practices with email communication.

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 in addition to sending more emails overall, our Pacific timezone users email more regularly outside of the typical hours of operations. This is true in the sense of seemingly longer work days and an overnight peak between the hours of midnight and 1 AM. This is likely to coincide with the beginning of the business day for GMT and/or UTC and implies that our users on the west coast spend a particularly significant amount of time working internationally.

US Eastern Timezone

Our Eastern timezone users sit right in the middle in terms of both the number of emails sent out and the number of recipients. They perform almost exactly according as the global average when it comes to emails sent internally versus externally, but do interestingly on average send fewer number of emails to each of their recipients. Maybe there is something to the stereotype of east coasters being a bit more curt and to the point after all?

US Eastern timezone sent emails by hour

To be perfectly clear, our title actually refers to all users from the Eastern timezone instead of specifically just New Yorkers. The histogram for the emails sent out by the hour for Eastern timezone users looks a bit different from the two that we’ve already looked at. While the rate does slow down around lunchtime, there is a steady and gradual increase in the number of emails through lunch. It is the only US timezone, and the only timezone globally we’ve found thus far, that shows no decrease at all in the number of emails sent out during lunch.

US Mountain Timezone

We didn’t want to spend too much time discussing our Mountain timezone users only because we currently don’t have a large enough sample size of them for us to be comfortable analyzing the data in detail. 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 – let alone the chart immediately 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 feel free to 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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  • 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!


    • 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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