Information workers are being let go in spades and it’s only the beginning. As of this writing, 140,000 tech company employees have been fired in 2022, according to the layoffs.fyi database, including massive layoffs at companies such as Amazon, Meta, Cisco, Uber, and hundreds of others. And that’s only at tech companies, which are widely considered a bellwether for the broader economy. The implications for so many empty positions are manyfold but one of the key ones is that with so many people missing, it just became much harder to find information at these companies. Because when information workers leave their posts, they often take their knowledge out the door with them. Sure, they leave their documents and emails behind, but who can find them?
Before the current layoff spree, a 2020 survey commissioned by Microsoft found that employees spent between four to six hours per week searching for information. For information workers, the numbers are added up to almost 6 weeks of lost productivity every year… lost to ‘searching or recreating information.’ The numbers were even higher for executives. And now that information workers are being laid off, the amount of lost productivity is surely much higher. With so much technology in place to manage documents, why is it so difficult to find information?
There are two main causes for information going MIA. First, information in the form of emails and documents are often locked away in personal storage like email Inboxes and local drives, unavailable to colleagues. Second, even when information is stored in a centralized location like SharePoint, OneDrive, or Microsoft Teams, there are so many similar items dumped in these locations, that it is impossible to find the document wheat from all the paper chaff.
Luckily, there is a solution already in place. The key to finding information, like emails and documents, is classifying them using metadata.
Classifying information using metadata is possible, but it’s a challenge. All document management systems incorporate metadata, but asking people to populate metadata fields for each piece of content runs into several roadblocks; as follows:
But hope’s not lost. Here are several ways to classify information so stuff can be found, regardless of who has left the company:
Furthermore, as good as this technology becomes, it will still not solve the problem of providing shared access to email messages stored in personal mailboxes. Access to this information is particularly important in times of corporate downsizing, when key emails are locked in dormant mailboxes of ex-employees and are off limits to colleagues and managers.
No, given the state of the industry and the technology, a different, practical approach is needed today to enable organizations to retain important documents and emails AND to be able to find them quickly, especially when the creators are no longer around to ask.
The key to any practical solution is ‘making the right thing the easy thing’ to do. When workers are compliant by simply doing what they have always done, you’ve won. If this sounds too good to be true, read on.
Today, workers still spend a considerable amount of work time in email because that’s how they communicate with suppliers, customers, and partners. In fact, a recent Ziff-Davis survey found that 75% of organizations use email to distribute information, more than any other technology. And because many email messages (and attachments) are documents of record, they need to be retained and classified for future reference. That’s why email is still the place to enable workers to capture and classify emails and documents. And that is precisely what harmon.ie offers.
harmon.ie is a sidebar that resides within Outlook. It makes capturing and classifying emails and documents simple, and then helps you find them later. Here is how you can use it to capture and classify emails and documents:
That’s it. With this simple operation, the content is accurately classified and available to authorized personnel. No toggling between windows, no training, no employee resistance. Making classification this simple is the key to compliance.
Finding information using harmon.ie is just as simple. Use the Search box in the harmon.ie sidebar to locate important content from anywhere in Microsoft 365. You can search using metadata directly from this window as well, making it super easy to find what you need quickly.