Transparency is good. Access to information is good. Stress is bad.
What do you get when you mix these together? Something bad!
In their chapter contribution, 'Information Overload: An Overview', to be published in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Political Decision Making (Oxford University Press 2020), they state:
" 'Push' services, particularly on ambient mobile devices, have added greatly to the perception of overload, with information being constantly 'imposed' without being sought. The ubiquity of mobile devices has added to the always-on syndrome, often associated with information overload."
A Google Survey of 12,000 people across seven countries conducted from April-May 2020 and commissioned by OpenText, revealed the linkage between information and stress.
In Singapore, 23% of respondents say they are stressed by ‘information overload’ across devices, 13% feel they can’t unplug and are dealing with information 24/7, and another 13% feel overwhelmed with too many data sources and apps to check each day.
Why is that? On average, 17% of Singapore respondents now use more than ten accounts, tools and apps every day.
The survey also revealed that 26% of Singapore workers with office-based jobs do not feel equipped with the digital tools to effectively shift their work to a remote environment, shining a light on the productivity challenge faced by office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The advent of ‘information overload’
Forty-seven per cent of Singapore workers responding to a survey agree that the number of information sources – email, news feeds, diaries, social media sites, company drive, shared drive etc. – they check each day has increased in the last five years.
The data suggests this ‘information overload’ is having a significant impact on both personal life and work. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of working Singapore respondents are able to limit the number of tools, apps and resources they access to complete a work project to three or fewer. In fact, 41% of Singapore workers typically spend more than a minute searching for a specific file or piece of information for work purposes. Only 20% can usually find the file they require in less than ten seconds.
“Consumers increasingly use digital services for everything from communicating with loved ones to accessing healthcare and buying their groceries. Similarly, many businesses are turning to new digital services to ensure staff can work safely from home,” said Lou Blatt, SVP and CMO, OpenText.
“Users have proven willing to adopt new services and tools, but also face challenges in managing multiple accounts and sources of information. Companies need to recognise this trend and find ways to reduce complexity, simplify workflows and processes and create compelling customer and employee experiences.”
Information requirements for the ‘new normal’
Twenty-nine per cent of Singapore respondents admit remaining motivated would be their biggest challenge if working from home long-term, 22% say access issues would be the main problem – from accessing work emails to accessing corporate file systems and content.
Collaboration is also a concern with 26% saying collaborating and sharing information and files with colleagues would be their biggest challenge.
Despite the prevalence of work applications and tools to check and use each day, 43% of working Singapore respondents admit to having shared work-related files on a personal file sharing system, such as DropBox.
Peter Bagge, vice president, Asia Pacific, OpenText said poor information management has major implications for a business.
“Employee productivity can suffer as staff struggle with access issues whilst security can often become an afterthought as staff look for workarounds. With data often residing in multiple, disparate systems, an organisation’s pursuit of a single version of the truth can become virtually impossible.
“The reality is manual classification and filing processes are error-prone. By implementing automation, businesses can make the most of their information and provide a seamless user experience for staff, customers and partners. This is even more crucial now as organisations adapt and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the business landscape,” Bagge concluded.