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How to alleviate employee information overload

By Shandel McAuliffe | |7 minute read
How to alleviate employee information overload

According to a survey of knowledge workers in early 2022, fewer than a quarter of workers have returned to the office full time, with about the same percentage working remotely all week. More significantly, the research also discovered 44 per cent, or almost half, are doing hybrid work, splitting their week between days in the office and working remotely.

This hybrid environment has led to some staff having a poor work-life balance, with an ELMO Software report revealing that 34 per cent of Australian employees are working more than 38 hours a week and an additional 11 per cent feel they are working too many hours.

Working from home can lead to information overload, with research conducted by OpenText in 2022, finding this overload is contributing to daily stress, as well as having a negative impact on mental health and work performance.

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What is information overload?

The difference between what workers are experiencing with information overload today, compared to two years ago, is stark. This may be attributed to the fact that we’re working at home at least part of the time and in the office for the remainder.

Our recent research found 80 per cent of Aussie workers are suffering from information overload, which is contributing to their daily stress. This compares to just two in five (40 per cent) who felt the same way back in 2020.

The key drivers for information overload include too much information across devices, being constantly bombarded by information, as well as too many passwords to remember or too many applications to check to get their work done.

Making things worse is the fact that less than half of Aussie workers (42 per cent) feel they have the right digital tools to work at home, compared to 66 per cent at the beginning of the pandemic.

This situation is also creating a security nightmare for businesses because half of all workers are resorting to using personal file sharing tools to get their jobs done. Those same workers also think they’re doing the right thing, believing their organisations don’t have any policies preventing them from using non-official tools.

The reason they’re using these tools is because they feel they can’t easily collaborate with colleagues while working from home, nor can they easily access shared resources. Over one third of workers also struggle with not having the same setup at home as they do in the office.

Achieving the 'information advantage' approach

The good news is these problems can be resolved, and companies with a hybrid workforce can achieve an ‘information advantage’ by putting in place some simple strategies.

The first step is to put in place a single source of truth. Using enterprise content management, businesses can eliminate data silos and create a central platform that will improve information access.

Step two is to integrate applications that allow remote workers to access data from originating systems, for example Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.

Using Cloud-based platforms is the third step to achieve an information advantage, as they offer the same access to workers, regardless of where they are located. These Cloud platforms make collaboration simple and have the bonus of being administered by a Cloud service provider (CSP), minimising the burden of having to manage IT systems internally.

By using these tools, businesses can minimise information overload and eliminate the need for staff to work across tens or dozens of applications while remembering untold numbers of passwords.

With hybrid work being the new reality, organisations must put in place tools to help workers be more productive, happier and have a better work-life balance. By using Cloud systems, as well as providing a single source of truth, business can achieve these goals while their staff work from anywhere, be it home or office.

George Harb is the regional vice president, ANZ for OpenText

RELATED TERMS

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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