Here at Airtable, our preferred way of processing the world around us is — no surprise — giving it a little structure. And there was a lot to process this year: from climate disasters to pandemics, economic uncertainty to long-needed social justice movements, nearly every aspect of how we work and live has changed this year. As December comes to a close and we reflect on all that’s happened, the Airtable team wanted to dive into three movements that inspired us during this very longest of years.
The Rise of Community
In 2020, we saw people across the world step up to support each other in unprecedented ways. In particular, we’ve been inspired by three incredible grassroots community movements:
A grassroots response to COVID-19
In March, as countries around the world entered lockdown and the magnitude of COVID-19’s potential impact became clear, we had a front row seat to something truly incredible: over 1,200 community-led projects—with over 21,000 collaborators around the world—engaged with us over the course of 2020, and we were grateful to offer free Pro licenses and consultations to them all.
Many of these groups were generous enough to open source their systems for other organizations to leverage, including:
- Frontline Foods Food Delivery System
- All Together LA Volunteer and Client CRM
- Virginia Commonwealth University N95 Mask Inventory Management
- School Closures enrichment activities for children learning at home
Coming together to create a new community infrastructure to support the most vulnerable among us—during a pandemic!—is no small feat, and we’ve been energized by the ingenuity and resilience of this movement.
Resources in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement
In June, we joined millions across the United States in mourning the senseless deaths of not only George Floyd, but David McAtee, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people who deserve justice. Alongside the protests, we were inspired by the incredible advocacy, education, organization, and mutual aid programs that took root during the summer, and continue to grow to this day. We saw countless resources developed in support of this effort, and want to highlight just a few:
- Airtable employee Joey Best-James visualizes the history of police brutality in America to help reinforce why Black lives should matter to all of us
- Rebuild Black Business spotlights opportunities to support Black-owned businesses affected by COVID-19 and social unrest
- Artist Ash Forrest shares a growing set of curated anti-racist education resources
- Airtable’s team shares the materials we are using to educate ourselves
We are grateful to see this work continue, and remain committed to directing both internal and external efforts in support of the Black community.
Civic engagement in action on Airtable
Finally, as election season reached its peak in the United States, the Airtable team got to witness the power of democracy in action firsthand as volunteer groups, campaigns, and local governments turned to Airtable to organize volunteers, capture signups for virtual events, share voting guides, and even provide real-time updates on wait times at the polls:
Distributed Work Goes Mainstream
As a platform helping companies reimagine how they work, we kept pretty busy as the global transition to remote work unfolded. However, we were interested to take a closer look at what distributed really meant in practice in 2020—were knowledge workers at a given company all just sitting in their respective houses in the same city? Or is it truly more global than that? Does it vary by industry?
A few of our most interesting takeaways are below.
Collaborators are a lot farther apart than you might think
We started by taking a look at what percentage of Airtable bases had multiple collaborators working from different places, at the city, country, and time zone level. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority (82%) are working across multiple cities; we were interested to see that nearly half (44%) were collaborating across time zones, and nearly a third (28%) were collaborating across multiple countries.
Next, we double clicked into those collaborative cities.
Cities like to pair up—both next door…
Suburb/city pairings emerge by design, but we were interested to see which pairings rose to the top of our most collaborative cities list. Measured by the total number of bases with at least one collaborator from each of these city pairs, the following five couples were our most collaborative in 2020:
- Brooklyn + New York City
- New Taipei + Tapei
- Oakland + San Francisco
- Beaverton + Portland
- Delhi + New Delhi
...and across countries
But most collaborators weren’t so close to home. Five international pairings rose to the top of our most collaborative sister cities list:
- Jakarta + Singapore
- Bratislava + Prague
- London + New York
- Amsterdam + Denver
- Hong Kong + Singapore
No two industries work remotely alike
Having such a wide-ranging community of users allows Airtable to do a little comparison across different industries. When it comes to distributed work, there’s a very different picture for each.
First, we took a look at which industries had collaborators in the most countries over the course of the year. To do so, we looked at the total number of unique cities and countries from which bases were accessed and then averaged that number across the total number of collaborators on those bases. That means if an industry as an average of 0.3 countries per user, there are approximately 3 collaborators in each country — which would mean for a company with 100 users, their employees are spread across more than 33 countries!
We weren’t surprised to see professional services (organizations supporting other businesses, such as tax, consulting, or audit firms) in the lead here, given the need to be close to client worksites. We were interested to see that in all five of these top industries, despite the pandemic, organizations averaged >2 cities per collaborator (and, as described in the example above, a new country for every ~3 people!).
On the other hand, we see much higher geographic concentration at the country level in these five traditional industries, our least distributed:
No-Code Comes into Its Own
2020 was truly the year that the no-code community came together. Whether inspired by rising needs for a side hustle or the spark of intellectual curiosity (or both!), this year saw record numbers of new people join the community. The energy, enthusiasm, and output of the collective was astounding.
A Cambrian Explosion of No-Code Projects
During 2020, over 100 no-code projects and tools launched on Product Hunt. (We counted.) There are now 276 companies that describe themselves as “no-code” on Crunchbase. Dozens of new no-code focused newsletters and podcasts appeared, along with a fellowship, a rolling fund, and more. The energy is palpable.
No-Code Operations Emerges
Towards the second half of this year, we saw the emergence of no-code operations as a defined role. From Twitter threads to job openings at blue chip companies, more and more people are waking up to the value that skilled no-code operators can unlock for organizations.
Looking Forward with Gratitude
We’re closing out the year grateful for the opportunity to support amazing things our community wants to build. Every day they inspire us with their resilience and creativity. Thanks for everything, and see you in 2021!