September 5, 2017

Knowledge workers in the face of information overload

Knowledge workers: who are they and what do they do exactly?

Knowledge workers are people who specialize in knowledge. This includes engineers, physicians, architects, scientists, design thinkers, accountants, and academics. They are basically white-collar workers who "think for a living". However, since they don’t spend their days in the factory manually shaping a product to life, knowledge workers usually have to sit behind a computer and deal with digital information. Except this physically “easy” job has its own struggles.Knowledge workers have to constantly communicate either by writing a report, exchanging emails, commenting on cards/tickets, or picking up the phone to transmit an information. That is the only way for them to get their job done. Unfortunately, unlike factory workers who get to focus on their current tasks, this type of job deals with constant interruptions.

Information overload or information flood?

Current research has shown that the “information overload” knowledge workers are dealing with is impacting them professionally and personally. It affects their decision-making skills, innovation, and productivity. Not only that but the mere stress of not being able to process information as soon as it arrives and the social guilt of not answering a message/email in a timely manner can, in fact, demoralize a person.

Emails... Emails everywhere

In one study by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine, people took an average of nearly 25 minutes to return to a work task after an email interruption. At some point, one would feel compelled to browse through the received emails and messages just to keep up with the project’s progress. On another note, however, not replying to Calls To Action (CTA) -- either comments or emails -- has even worse consequences. In fact, unaddressed CTAs cause a delay in decision making. All because of not knowing whether or when someone will answer an email message. If you don’t hear back in a timely fashion, you’re left wondering… did that person receive the message? Or are they intentionally ignoring it? Maybe it got lost somewhere within the notifications? Would a drop by their desk be necessary? And so on..

.. And the costs are pretty high!

The thing about information overload is that they are (1) unpredictable and (2) so very costly to a company and even to the government. Did you know that Information overload costs US economy almost $1 Trillion yearly? On a company level, however, duplicated work costs companies $5,000,000 per year. It goes without saying that the numbers vary depending on the company’s nature but that is still a serious financial burden.This is why we created Veamly! We recognize the time, financial, and psychological strains information overload put on the team. We want to curate all that data and cherry pick only what’s important. Want to know more? Request your free account.