The future of work: knowledge, the fine line between power and chaos
In our series, The Future of Work, we are taking a look at how companies can change the way they work to adapt to the needs of their employees and customers. We hope this series can help organizations feeling the pressure to adapt but have not begun or are just beginning their transformation journey.
In the first installment of the Google Workspace series, we talked about getting the most of the seemingly neverending tool landscape. Today we will address the second change businesses can make to take a step towards working in the future, knowledge access.
“Knowledge is power,” or so we’ve been told. We’ve heard this quote echoed throughout our education, and the meaning is clear: Learn more so that you can control more events. But what about work? Is knowledge useful in the workplace?
As we mentioned in our previous post about tools, work is changing. Furthermore, the way we work is changing. As we speak, thousands of workers are accessing work from various entry points and locations. According to the Harvard Business Review Analytic Service, 79% of business leaders believe seamless, digital access to knowledge is critical to overall performance. Yet, only 18% believe that their organization shares knowledge well.
What are the issues here? Why can’t workers find what they need?
The endless search for information
First, let’s set the stage. What does information access look like now? Here are some stats:
- 86% of global workers experience challenges when searching for information they need to do their jobs (M-Files, “2019 Global Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report,” 2019)
- 82% of employees spend at least half an hour a day searching for information
- 32% of workers have avoided sharing a document with a colleague because it would take too long to find
- 31% would use Google search to obtain their own company logo
Ok, so these statistics are pretty grim, right? Workers can’t even find their company logo without a Google search! Solutions are on the way, but first, we must explain why this is happening and address each reason individually.
- Information is restricted or siloed.
- Multiple versions are a problem.
- Knowledge isn’t shared across the organization.
- It’s hard to turn data into value.
Information is restricted or siloed
Forty-four percent of US business leaders say that disparate information systems across the organization make it harder to connect and collaborate (Harvard Business Review Analytical Services, “The Connected Workforce: Maximizing Productivity, Creativity and Profitability,” 2018). On top of this, 56% of US employees have trouble gaining access to tools and documents that ensure effective job performance during onboarding.
How can we lower these numbers? In short, a unified system with limited restrictions on access to information. With a smart knowledge management system like Google Drive or Confluence, searching for the correct files is easy, and the most recent version is always first.
Multiple versions are a problem
Ever have trouble finding the most recent version of a file? You’re not alone. In fact, 96% of workers have experienced the same feeling (M-Files, “2019 Global Intelligence Information Management Benchmark Report,” 2019). Ever need to check multiple places for the most recent version and feel that you are wasting time? There is no need to fret because 82% of workers also say the same (M-Files, “2019 Global Intelligence Information Management Benchmark Report,” 2019). So what gives?
Versioning is something that should happen automatically. As mentioned in the above section, the most recent version should always display first so that users have the most current information. If you want to see an old version, that should be easily presentable as well. Depending on your system, this might take some training, but the access to old versions should be there.
Knowledge isn’t shared across the organization
Ever wonder what your office neighbor is working on? It turns out that 86% of workers also think the same. Can you ask them? Are they wearing earphones? Don’t want to interrupt? What if they are working on the same document as you?
How does this sound? A system where it’s easy to see what your colleagues are actively working on, so you can help or remove impediments? And within the same system, actively see who is working on documents when you access them. You can work together with your colleagues on documents collaboratively to get better results. With modern-day knowledge management systems, such as Google Workspace, this is all possible.
It’s hard to turn data into value
Many organizations have all the data they need; they just don’t know what to do with it. Forty-four percent of US employees agree. Organizations then blame their lack of progress on the lack of insights from their data.
How do we get more insights into our data without overwhelming the non-technical members of our team? With Google Workspace, it’s easy to find useful information and insights from a spreadsheet by typing simple questions in everyday language, no formula or SQL required.
Employees might think they are helping solve some of the information access problems when they use their personal file-sharing systems and devices. Still, they are causing a considerable security risk. Instead, organizations should provide employees with access to centrally managed technology that meets their demands to access and share information.
Accessing and sharing the information is only the start, though. Employees also need help drawing conclusions from this information. AI-powered solutions help with this as they reduce the technical requirements to gathering insights.
In the end, more access to knowledge means more people have access to that knowledge. If your team is diverse, this could mean a wide range of new and fresh opinions coming to your data. Executives and leaders within organizations know that the best new ideas come from within the team, so start leveraging that diverse pool of talent you have gathered at your organization.
Now that you have a better idea of how to tame knowledge and information in your organization, be sure to stay tuned for the next part in this series where we're going to be talking all about employee work culture.
Part 1 | Part 3 (stay tuned)
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