Will WFH increase or decrease your Information Overload

Will WFH increase or decrease Information Overload? (m. bariff 9-14-20)

Work From Home (WFH) was claimed to empower knowledge workers with more flexible work hours and improved productivity from elimination of travel to/from the office. Have you experienced these and more benefits? Consider these factors in your personal assessment:

  1. Have you established with peer workers a clearly communicated boundary for hours when you will accept voice and written messages? If not, distraction can lower productivity and increase stress.
  2. If your job includes monitoring some aspect of operations, e.g., sales, manufacturing, delivery, call center activities, what is the frequency of updates? Are you experiencing FOMO or adapted to your WFH environment? Have you discovered your “sweet spot” for balancing “need to know” with information overload?
    1. Status updates initiated by your request
    2. Continuous real-time feed
    3. Pre-set frequency of automated reporting
    4. Periodic reporting with exception alerts
    5. Another approach?
  3. Have you experienced “task scope leakage” from WFH during COVID? Has your organization reduced the size of the workforce increasing demands upon the remaining employees? Each additional task demand typically is accompanied by additional information to be processed. If YES, how do you cope along with maintaining your mental and physical health? Do you have a formal tool for organizing and prioritizing your work demands, e. g., Eisenhower Box (2X2 table) within which you classify demands by Importance and Urgency? Refer to: https://www.eisenhower.me/eisenhower-matrix/
  4. Does your organization value an acceptable quality of the data available to the workforce, e. g. “single source of truth” from accurate, current and consistent data? If not, you probably waste time reconciling inconsistent data. Have you and your work colleagues communicated your concerns to senior management describing how judgments and decision-making quality and time to complete could improve?
  5. Is your WFH setting ergonomically appropriate? Does your employer provide financial support to create an appropriate WFH workplace? Some guidance from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169 This may be another source of WFH stress impacting your activity performance.
  6. A recent Slack “State of Work” survey (https://slack.com/state-of-work ) and specific recommendations for addressing WFH Information overlaod:

7. An “eye opener” recent study of 2,000 knowledge workers in the U.K. revealed:
Additionally, ‘information overload’ is contributing to stress levels on a daily basis: 18% of respondents are stressed by ‘information overload’ across devices, 8% feel they can’t unplug and are dealing with information 24/7, and another 8% feel overwhelmed with too many data sources and apps to check each day.

Almost half (47%) of UK respondents 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. On average, more than one in ten (13%) UK respondents now use more than ten accounts, tools and apps every day.

The data suggests this ‘information overload’ is having a significant impact on both personal life and work. Just two-fifths (41%) of working UK 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, a third (31%) of UK workers typically spend more than a minute searching for a specific file or piece of information for work purposes. Only a fifth (21%) can usually find the file they require in less than ten seconds.

The COVID-19 virus is not disappearing soon. Some jobs may remain classified as WFH even after the virus becomes controllable? How are you coping and adapting to this “new normal”—at least for the near-term future?  (https://iorgforum.org )