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Employee focus is one of the major challenges for business leaders today. Countless studies have shown how, in our era of information overload, knowledge workers spend more time than ever hunting for information. As a recent survey harmon.ie commissioned on enterprise app usage showed, 43% of people say that they have to switch between too many apps just to get basic work done.  

If employee focus is an issue at your organization, app and information overload could be one of the major culprits. If workers are forced to constantly switch context during their tasks, at the same time as receiving emails, notifications, text messages and more, employee focus is bound to suffer.

Scientific research has proven beyond doubt that employee focus deteriorates when staff switch between contexts while carrying out their work. But, in our era of  ‘always on’ notifications, is this simply an unfortunate side effect of modern IT?

Not necessarily.

New methods such as Topic Computing aim to resolve the issue.

How Topic Computing helps employee focus

Topic Computing is a new approach to enterprise IT which aims to humanize the digital experience. Rather than organizing content in hierarchies that users navigate through in a way which is alien to how people actually think, it categorizes information into topics to push to the user ­in context.

For instance, when an employee receives an email about a certain subject, Topic Computing uses artificial intelligence to bring them content related to that email across all the different apps and tools they use. This means information is brought to them at the right time—and means they don’t have to visit multiple locations to find it.

Let’s look at how Topic Computing helps boost employee focus in three common scenarios:

1.Case management

In both public and private sector organizations, case files play an important role in conducting business. Whether it’s a local government department building a response to a Freedom of Information Act request, or a legal firm dealing with a real estate dispute, organizations tend to collect all this information in a central place such as SharePoint where employees can refer to it later.

This is fine in theory, yet presents various issues relating to employee focus. For instance, finding information related to a case means the employee must leave their email client (the application where they spend most of their time at work) and navigate somewhere else. If they need to do this once a day, it’s not hugely taxing, taking just a few minutes. But if they need to do this 20, 30, 40 times per day, the hit to productivity can be huge. Inevitably, each time they leave email, they’re likely to get distracted and waste time.  

However, Topic Computing cancels out these kinds of issues. Tools like harmon.ie, ‘surface’ relevant content in relation to whatever the user is viewing in their email interface. If a new email arrives relating to “Case #201”, for example, all information related to that case is immediately surfaced from other apps in a sidebar in Outlook. The user can browse content related to the topics from multiple different apps and therefore avoid getting distracted searching for relevant information.

2.Project management

In almost any kind of project, multiple apps and information repositories will be used. Employees might opt for a tool like Yammer to discuss project progress, a spreadsheet or custom app for project timelines, email to communicate with external collaborators and a folder in SharePoint Online for content. All project members will access these apps, navigate to them for information and update them.

Once again, this approach is fine in theory, yet can rapidly result in breakdowns in employee focus. Staff must hunt through endless email chains to find information, navigate to different environments and read endless conversations to find simple answers to their questions.

But, once again, Topic Computing changes the game here. Because tools like harmon.ie use artificial intelligence to ‘tag’ content, it can be surfaced to employees when it is relevant. If a user receives an email from a client about a project stage, for instance, Collage can draw up other related information which will help the employee understand the context better without having to search through tons of content. Conversations in Yammer are surfaced, as are all previous emails with the client and the latest project documents, meaning they can get a better understanding of things faster.

3.Collaboration within a major organization

One of the most pressing problems for large organizations with multiple sites are the physical barriers to communication and collaboration. Employees find it difficult to know what their colleagues are working on, and there is a lack of transparency over what other teams are doing. While intranet platforms like SharePoint go some way to improving this situation, they still require users to constantly navigate between environments to hunt for information. And once again, this is bad news for employee focus.

This is where Topic Computing can prove its value again. By surfacing content when it is relevant, rather than expecting users to go out of their way and find it, tools like harmon.ie mean they discover important links across the business. Colleagues who are working on similar topics – even though they may be based in different locations, are made aware of changes their counterparts have made. This means they do not have to constantly search through the intranet to discover updates – instead, the updates are brought to them.

Case Study: Click here to read how international non-profit financial organization The Global Fund uses harmon.ie to help eradicate AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

harmon.ie boosts employee focus

In today’s highly distracting workplace, employee focus is a rare commodity. However, by bringing information to users in context with Topic Computing, you can help employees concentrate on the work that really matters.

Ready to learn how harmon.ie can help boost employee focus? Read more here.

 

David Lavenda
Chief Product Officer