Searching for people in the workplace: aims, behaviour, and challenges


  • Tanja Svarre Aalborg University
  • Marianne Lykke Aalborg University
  • Ann Bygholm Aalborg University



workplace information, people search, expertise search, enterprise search system


Introduction. People have been shown to play an important role in solving search tasks in professional settings. Searching for a person covers a large part of the information retrieval carried out in the workplace. However, it can be challenging to identify relevant people through a query. Thus, to support workplace users, knowledge of the characteristics of people searches is needed to identify which steps can be taken to ease the retrieval process.

Method. This study examined the characteristics of people searching in a biotechnology company based on a mixed-methods process consisting of search log data from an in-house enterprise system, a questionnaire survey, and semi-structured interviews with users of the enterprise system. 

Results. The findings showed that people search accounted for 59.5% of all queries in the search log. Log data and questionnaire data were analysed to determine how the queries were distributed across organisational areas and information sources. The interview data provided insight into how people search was used for locating people and expertise and as part of exploratory, complex subject searches. Challenges in searching for people were also discussed in the interviews. The findings were used to discuss the implications for future workplace information systems.




How to Cite

Svarre, T., Lykke, M., & Bygholm, A. (2024). Searching for people in the workplace: aims, behaviour, and challenges. Information Research an International Electronic Journal, 29(2), 573–588.