Knowledge management is challenging at the best of times. Storing, sharing, and using the collective knowledge of every employee in your organisation takes careful planning, the right tools, a mindful attitude, and some strategic processes.
Remote working can make knowledge management even harder. Gone are the casual chats over the coffee machine, the physical documents that help keep you organised, the spontaneous peer to peer training sessions.
But building knowledge management systems that work remotely will not only get you on the right course now; they'll be a huge competitive advantage once you’re back in the office.
After all, information is the lifeblood of today’s organisations – it’s critical not to let it trickle out as people change roles or leave.
Here are our 6 top tips to help your company get smarter every day, even when you’re working remotely.
Use the “Bus Test”
You might have come across the idea of the “Bus Test”. It’s the principle that no information should be in one person’s head – just in case said person gets hit by a bus.
Instead, knowledge must always be shared with at least one person, and it must always be easy to find. “Knowledge” doesn’t just mean facts or information – it also means your organisational processes, how tools work, the details of client relationships, how to access your various accounts, and so on.
Setting up your business to pass the Bus Test takes more than just documenting information. It also requires a shift in attitude.
You can think of this as “two-track working” – while your employees are working on a task, they also need to be constantly thinking about whether someone else could do this task if they were suddenly unavailable.
Is there a process document? Are they relying on memory or is the information stored somewhere?
Setting up process documents doesn’t have to be complicated – you can use a template on Google Drive or set up a process board on Trello.
Even quicker, if you have an employee experience platform like Learn Amp, users can record quick tutorial videos or create short notes and share them in a single information repository, so all knowledge is easy to find.
Make Marie Kondo proud
It should go without saying – well-organized, searchable knowledge storage is critical for remote workers. But it obviously bears repeating, given that the average worker spends 9.5 hours a week searching for information!
Switching to remote work is a great opportunity to review and improve your knowledge management systems – especially how you store communications. Now’s your chance to get your internal knowledge platforms looking KonMari organised.
This is particularly important when it comes to internal communications. When possible, use asynchronous communication methods, like video messaging, and then store and tag these communications so that both parties can find and review the information later.
Reduce the number of communication channels that your employees use, so that key information isn’t being passed back and forth across multiple platforms. From within a tool like Learn Amp, you can set up digital events, send out pre-event notes and post-event write-ups, create and collaborate on training content, self-record videos and so on.
Keeping this all in the same place will help make sure that your remote team can always put their hands on the information they need, when they need it.
Encourage collective learning
Knowledge management comes from knowledge use. In other words, companies that prioritize constant learning make sure their knowledge is put to work and that nothing gets lost or forgotten. To create a learning organisation remotely, look for opportunities to encourage learning and information exchange.
For instance, if done right, meetings are a great opportunity for collective learning. To make the most of meetings, focus on establishing an environment of trust, so that everyone feels comfortable asking questions.
You might want to implement “silent meetings,” during which you collectively read and comment on meeting notes prepared in advance. Not only do silent meetings help promote a more diverse and inclusive culture, they also make sure you end up with a detailed record of the meeting and the decisions you reached.
To promote the flow of information remotely, you might want to set up cross-departmental collaborations or hackathons. You could use a tool like Learn Amp to schedule and announce group brainstorms ,online social events, or to encourage diverse groups to interact and share current projects or solve problems together.
Create an internal directory
In every company, there are subject matter experts – people who have made it their business to become a fountain of knowledge on a particular topic.
It’s not always obvious where expertise lies – the head of Marketing may be a fantastic public speaking coach, or Debbie in accounts may be the only person who really understands how to set up new reports in the CRM.
To make sure that everyone can get the benefit of this expertise, you need to reimagine your employee directory as a kind of internal LinkedIn. Create a short bio for each employee that shows not only the bare bones – job title, contact details – but also describes areas in which they have specialist knowledge that may be helpful for others.
Knowledge management isn’t just about keeping knowledge safe. It’s also about encouraging employees to engage with the knowledge you already have, and to increase your company knowledge every day. To promote a learning culture remotely, create individual learning pathways for every employee, with milestones and learning objectives.
While peer-to-peer learning can become harder when you’re not all sharing an office, screen sharing tools or self-recording options can allow employees to help each other learn new processes remotely.
You might even want to take advantage of our natural competitive instincts by gamifying your learning program – create a leaderboard to flag up employees who spend more time engaging with the learning platform or create the most learning resources.
Offboard with care
One of the most critical elements of knowledge management is a solid offboarding process. Too many companies let knowledge walk out the door along with their exiting employees.
It’s especially easy to do when you’re working remotely – employees who leave may simply disappear from one day to the next, taking their hard-won organisational expertise with them.
A detailed knowledge handover is key to a thorough offboarding. Obviously, if the employee is being let go, then this process may require some additional sensitivity.
If the employee is being made redundant, there should be some time between the redundancy announcement and the employee’s last day to invite the employee to sit down with their peers and walk them through their day-to-day, to identify any areas where they are the unique knowledge holder. While employees who are exiting may not feel that thrilled with their employer, they may still be prepared to help out their teammates.
The exit interview is also an ideal opportunity to identify any knowledge gaps that the employee is leaving behind them, so that the company can begin to address those gaps. Treating knowledge as the vital resource it is, and keep a close eye on areas where it might slip through your fingers.
To find out how Learn Amp can assist you in improving knowledge management in your organisation, request a demo below.