LexisNexis today announces the results of its 2010 International Workplace Productivity Survey which reveals how legal professionals are coping with information overload. Commissioned by LexisNexis, the report investigates information management practices and workplace productivity amongst 600 legal professionals in the UK, USA, China, Australia, and South Africa.

It reveals that information overload is exacting a heavy toll on productivity and employee morale. 58% of UK legal workers say work quality is suffering as they cannot sort through the information that they need fast enough. With 46% percent of legal workers in the UK admitting they feel demoralized when they can’t manage all of the information that comes their way at work.

• Increasing Workload: Eight in ten UK legal professionals (83%) say that the amount of information they have had to manage for their jobs has increased in the last five years.

• Wading Through the Information Deluge: Two-thirds of legal professionals, 66%, wish they could spend less time organizing, and more time using, the information that comes their way. The UK leads the way on information overload, with professionals spending 55% of their time receiving and managing rather than using information. This compares to Australia at 54%, South Africa at 51%, the USA at 49% and China using 47% of their work day receiving and managing information.

• One Application to Rule Them All: Six in ten UK legal workers (58%) believe they would be more productive if they did not have to switch back and forth between applications to get their work done.  Over three-quarters of UK legal professionals (77%) agree that the only way forward is the development of bespoke industry products which are designed to ‘work the way that they work’.

• Meeting the Demands of Increased Information: Most legal professionals have noticed changes in the way their workplaces have been dealing with the new information trends. Investment in faster and newer technology has been at the forefront of dealing with the changing information environment. Many workplaces are already investing in physical infrastructure to ameliorate the problem. 65% of UK legal professionals say their company has provided tools that work together to improve productivity and 67% say their workplaces has provided information management technology designed specifically for professionals within their industry. Workers are also being offered training in information management (66%). Much has changed in the way people work. The days of nine-five are over with 61% of UK legal workers being allowed to work off site.

• Bespoke Tools: But despite these encouraging trends this many lawyers feel that their tools need to be even more bespoke, designed specifically to fit in with their methods and styles of working. Six in ten legal professionals (58%) agree that they would be more productive if they didn’t have to switch back and forth between applications to get their work done. Over three-quarters of legal professionals (77%) agree that they could be more efficient if the software tools that they use were designed to work the way that they work. Almost half of legal professionals in the UK (45%) report that research takes up so much of their time that sometimes they end up not  billing for the time they spend on it.

“Workers across the globe are just about managing to keep their heads above water in a rising tide of information,” said Rob Farquharson, Director, LexisNexis Connect UK & Ireland. “The results of this survey reveal not just how widespread the problem is, but also the very real impact that information overload has on professionals’ and the bottom line. Employers need to do more than throw a life line in the shape of faster PCs. They need to invest in practical solutions that aid the flow and prioritisation of information.”


Comment: We have an Australian version of this story we'll be publishing later today, to comply with a different editorial embargo. In the meantime, are we the only people to think it a little ironic that a publisher of legal information should be running a survey looking into information overload within the legal space? That's a bit like Simon Cowell complaining the pop industry is dominated by manufactured boy bands and bland singers.