When companies first started shutting down their workplaces back in March, most people did not think that working from home was going to become the new normal. But with the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly not going away anytime soon, many organizations and employees have been investing in technological tools to help make remote work as seamless and efficient as possible.

Using the Zignal Media Intelligence Cloud (looking at data from February 1 – September 25), we took a closer look at how the conversations around top tech companies shaped up as remote work gained prominence.

Key Findings

  • Companies specializing in software that helps facilitate remote work (Zoom, Amazon, Google, Slack, and Skype) are mentioned more frequently than traditional hardware and equipment companies (with the exception of Apple). 
    • Zoom was most frequently mentioned among all companies analyzed.
    • Google and Microsoft were mentioned second and fourth most, respectively, though their competing offerings (Google Meet and Microsoft Teams) were mentioned at a much lower rate than Zoom.
  • Overall, users discussed these companies in a positive light, with a combined 82% net positive sentiment rating.
    • User experience conversations have tended to be mostly neutral, with most users and outlets posting content on how useful some of these tools can be. However, hacking and information security is a concern for many. 
    • Of the negative mentions, the majority have less to do with the functionality of the products, and more to do with commenting on bad experiences working from home and mentioning the brands/products.
  • The biggest drivers in conversations around the largest companies were: 1) news, 2) discussions of their own employees working remotely, and 3) their corresponding plans and guidance.

Overall Conversation Trends

Work from home mentions by company from February 1st, 2020 – September 25, 2020

  • While it may come as no surprise that Zoom was the most-mentioned company in regards to the remote work conversation, it still bears noticing they generated more mentions than global powerhouses Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple
  • Major spikes from these companies follow announcements made in regards to stay-at-home orders for their employees
    • For instance, Google’s three main spikes in mentions relate to their initial stay at home guidance, the announcement that employees will not be returning to offices for the remainder of 2020, and then the announcement that Googlers will not be returning to in-person work until at least mid-2021.
  • Skype had an early spike of just under 7,000 mentions during the week of March 16th, driven by articles about advice for working from home, as well as a viral tweet from Conan O’Brien, who stated that he would be filming his show via Skype.
    • However, as the year moved on, Slack generated 28 percent more mentions than Skype.

Media Breakdown

Work from home mentions by platform from February 1st, 2020 – September 25, 2020

  • Twitter and news stories drove the majority of mentions. 
    • Many major media outlets have reported on remote work and stay-at-home orders of major employers, which is then supplanted by syndication of the articles and local outlet attention as well.
  • Reddit accounted for the third most mentions, which were mainly driven by two sources: local subreddits focusing on stay-at-home orders for major employers, and more technology-focused subreddits discussing best practices and capabilities. 
  • Tip for tech firms:
    • Above all, brands should be monitoring subreddits dedicated to themselves, their industries, and the locations of their employees, as these communities tend to have vibrant and honest conversations about issues vital to the health of these firms.

User Experience

Total mentions by issue (broken down by sentiment) from February 1st, 2020 – September 25, 2020

Utilizing Zignal Labs’ customizable User Experience issue set, we were able to identify which common end-user experiences were most frequently discussed among the companies studied.

  • Though “Block” iterations are the most frequently mentioned, the posts and articles that drove this coverage mostly discussed how these tools remove impediments or “blocks” of worker productivity. 
  • While information security has been a concern in the shift to more remote work, conversations referencing hacks have mostly focused on what users can do to keep themselves and their work safe. 
  • The proliferation of Zoom in such a short time has left it open to abuse; the practice of “zoombombing” has been encountered by all types of users, from synagogue services to elementary school classes to Zoom happy hours. 
    • Zoom has made strides to enhance its security, and most outlets reported on the efforts made to prevent this form of hacking.
  • Tip for tech firms:
    • Be sure to implement the proper security precautions necessary to protect your organization’s intellectual property, consumer data, and any other sensitive information.

For other insights and analysis into timely topics, read full-length Intelligence Briefs on our Reports page.