COVID-19 has created unprecedented organisational challenges, yet no study has examined the impact on information search. A case study in a knowledge-intensive organisation was undertaken on 2.5 million search queries during the pandemic. A surge of unique users and COVID-19 search queries in March 2020 may equate to ‘peak uncertainty and activity’, demonstrating the importance of corporate search engines in times of crisis. Search volumes dropped 24% after lockdowns; an ‘L-shaped’ recovery may be a surrogate for business activity. COVID-19 search queries transitioned from awareness, to impact, strategy, response and ways of working that may influence future search design. Low click through rates imply some information needs were not met and searches on mental health increased. In extreme situations (i.e. a pandemic), companies may need to move faster, monitoring and exploiting their enterprise search logs in real time as these reflect uncertainty and anxiety that may exist in the enterprise.

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Cleverley, P., Cousins, F. & Burnett, S. 2021, 'Impact of COVID-19 on search in an organisation', Journal of Information Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551521989531

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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