December 10, 2014 | San Mateo, CA And Quebec City, QC

New Study Reveals Knowledge Workers Mostly Do Rework

Coveo Research report reveals that only 7 percent of Knowledge Workers surveyed report doing unique work more than 75 percent of the time

A new report from Coveo Research uncovers that, counter to their very definition, Knowledge Workers predominantly do work and solve challenges that have already been done and solved before at their organizations. Moreover, the vast majority of Knowledge Workers and Knowledge Management Practitioners surveyed believe that better access to more and personalized information from across their organizations would significantly improve sales, innovation and profitability.

Conducted from June through August of 2014, The Knowledge Rework Report randomly surveyed 412 Knowledge Workers and 337 Knowledge Management Practitioners, primarily in North America. The survey results show that an ability to reuse the majority of an organization’s knowledge and information, personalized for the user at the point of need, creates a multiplier effect far beyond the efficiency of simple time savings.

Counter to popular belief, Knowledge Workers report that they primarily do rework, potentially due to their inability to easily reuse work that has been done previously.

“It’s been well documented that employees spend a great deal of their time searching for, not finding and recreating information. What this study uncovers is the impact on new work: Respondents report that they mostly do rework, as Knowledge Workers rarely have easy access to information relevant to their current work,” said Diane Berry, head of Coveo Research and SVP market strategy at Coveo. “Knowledge Workers and Knowledge Management Practitioners understand the impact of easily accessing personalized knowledge when and where they need it, with the vast majority of respondents projecting this would result in huge increases in organizational performance.”

The survey results highlight a disconnect between what Knowledge Managers believe and what Knowledge Workers find to be true about the nature of knowledge work:

  • More than half of Knowledge Workers (58 percent) report that they do new work or solve unique issues less than 25 percent of the time; 41 percent of Knowledge Managers felt Knowledge Workers at their company did the same, a difference of nearly 20 percent.
  • Thirty-one (31) percent of Knowledge Managers felt that Knowledge Workers conducted unique work between 25 and 50 percent of the time, while only 19 percent of knowledge workers reported this to be true.

Knowledge Management Practitioners believe Knowledge Workers do unique work more often than Knowledge Workers report, but align on the difficulty of accessing prior knowledge and information.

“Rework simply should not happen in a digital workplace,” said Berry. “The significant amount of rework happening not only wastes time and frustrates employees, it causes a drag on organizational performance. Moreover, frustrated employees often disengage, which has a ripple effect on customer engagement. Improved access to knowledge enables workers to do what theydo best; effectively reuse existing knowledge to create new knowledge that will move their organizations forward.”

Knowledge Workers and KM Practitioners agree: Profitability would grow substantially with more access to past knowledge, personalized for their use.

The survey results indicate that Knowledge Managers and Knowledge Workers believe better access to existing, more relevant information would significantly impact their organization’s performance in innovation, sales and profitability:

  • Delivery and quality of innovative products and services: Nearly 50 percent of knowledge workers and 70 percent of knowledge managers believe their organization would deliver at least 25 percent more innovative products or services with more knowledge reuse.
  • Sales performance: Knowledge Managers see more benefit from increased access to knowledge and experts, with more than 40 percent predicting a greater than 25 percent increase in sales. Knowledge Workers concur, with 31 percent predicting an increase of 25 percent or more in sales and 18 percent predicting an increase of 50 percent or more.
  • Profitability: Knowledge Workers and Knowledge Managers both believe that the ability to access more and personalized knowledge would have a considerable impact on company profitability: nearly 70 percent of Knowledge Workers and 85 percent of Knowledge Managers believe that profitability would improve by anywhere from 10 to 50 percent or more.

“The business impact of being able to reuse prior knowledge is substantial, yet few organizations have established programs to successfully ensure it happens,” said Berry. “Perhaps based on a fundamental belief that knowledge workers predominantly do new work or solve new challenges, most organizations have not attacked the challenge of helping their workforce become more proficient by easily reusing existing knowledge. This report should be a wake-up call to companies to stop the rework and move beyond measures that seek to increase only efficiency to those that can increase Knowledge Worker proficiency, which has a multiplier effect on performance.”

Download the report and read more about the Coveo Research findings.

About Coveo

Recognized as the Most Visionary Leader in Enterprise Search by Gartner, Coveo helps organizations upskill for growth by ensuring that every employee, support agent, customer, and website visitor easily finds better and more relevant information and people—enhancing their skills for the task at hand.

Coveo's highly advanced enterprise search technology adds the value of rich content and insights to CRM, customer service applications, intranets and websites. Coveo securely connects with most legacy and cloud systems, consolidates organizations’ full ecosystems of record in real-time through secure, unified indexes, and provides unified search, dynamic 360-degree views of information, and contextual, proactive recommendations of relevant content and experts using powerful analytics.

Coveo is a strategic partner of several large application providers such as and Sitecore, and is used by leading organizations worldwide to enable the on-demand skills and knowledge required by constantly evolving digital workplaces. For more information, please visit, and follow us on the Coveo blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

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