More than 50% of office pros spend more time searching for files than on work

A new survey from Wakefield Research and Elastic reveals the secret struggle of keeping resources and documents organized.

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Image: Deagreez, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fifty-four percent of U.S. office professionals report wasting time searching for much-needed files in cluttered online filing systems, found a new report from the marketing research firm Wakefield Research and data analysts Elastic. The report observed that “loss of time negatively impacts companies and cultures as workers waste energy that would be better spent on planning, strategy and overall company growth.”

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Nearly 1 in 5 of the 1,000 U.S. office professionals surveyed ranked “digging for files they need” as the No. 1 problem to to support the future of remote work; another 58% of the office pros said a quick search for files and documents is a “top-three problem.”

Workers, notably those challenged by multitasking, are less likely to make an easily searchable folder or adhere to a more organized system. Wakefield’s report warns tech pros: “The search for work content is killing your time. Constant searching for documents during the workday is wasting time and reducing employee productivity. Companies need to figure out content management (and fast) if they want to keep employees productive and win in the work-from-home world.”

Time loss directly affects productivity and with remote work solidified as emblematic of the return to work, whether hybrid or full remote. The report stated: “IT teams must address this critical lost time head-on with functional solutions. Organizations must ensure their employees have the tools they need to accomplish work quickly and efficiently, and not get lost in organizational rabbit holes.” 

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More than 4 in 5 (81%) office pros can’t find an important document “when a boss or client has put them in the hot seat. Of those, nearly one-in-three office pros (31%) frequently struggle to find documents they need during a tense moment at work.”

The survey covered data breakdown on workers across generations (millennials, Gen X and baby boomers) and how companies can distribute tools to help address these mounting organizational issues that are draining hours of productivity and budgets. Millennials (41%) are more likely to struggle to find important documents than Gen X (30%) and four times more likely than boomers (9%) to get lost looking for documents. 

Company leaders are not immune to the frustrations that file finding has, even more so than managing an email account that receives more than 300 incoming emails. Upper management office professionals (41%) are more than three times as likely to say quick file search is the top problem to solve, compared to 13% of their lower-level coworkers.

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