by Tracy Linne 08/06/2020
Companies that prioritize operating a collaborative workplace were thrown a curveball when the pandemic hit. When knowledge workers became work-from-home employees, water cooler conversations, hard copy file sharing, and the ability to hold impromptu in-person meetings were all put on indefinite hold. The impact of COVID-19 on knowledge management is still unfolding, but one thing is clear: The ability to seamlessly share information across a distributed workforce is more important than ever.
When teams work well together, every measurable result from employee attraction and retention to revenue generation seems to improve. What started as workplace design projects (i.e., open floor plans to spark collaboration) shifted into knowledge management initiatives (how companies improve performance by facilitating the flow of information between employees, partners and customers) and have now turned into distributed workforce emergencies. All three initiatives demonstrate that creating a collaborative workplace requires the ability to share knowledge.
There are all sorts of reasons that employees don’t share information with their peers. And, every company has vast stores of history and research and anecdotes and data. Making all of that information accessible is an accelerant for collaboration. Easy access to information encourages the most reluctant “sharers” to stop hoarding knowledge and share what they know.
Creating a culture of sharing and collaboration as part of a remote knowledge management initiative starts with three steps:
First, acknowledge that knowledge comes in many forms and is often a nugget within a larger store of information. It might be a quote, or at the end of a spreadsheet, or buried in a PDF. It might be hiding in a deep part of one of the four silos of data (public, company, paid, or personal) and it might be harder to share than an email or an existing document.
Second, knowledge sharing requires context to demonstrate why pieces of information are important and relevant to a particular issue. A collection of facts and snippets requires a narrative, or purpose, to be actionable. Rather than drinking from the firehose of search results, successful sharing delivers highly relevant, contextual information.
Third, knowledge management must leverage technology that makes it easy to access, apply and amplify information. With all of the tumult around your team’s workday, delivering the ability to have relevant information flow to them – instead of requiring searching across the four silos of information – could be a real gift. Consider using a platform that encourages a collaborative culture of sharing.
In times of upheaval, companies can find new and interesting ways to encourage collaboration at work. Creating an environment where sharing knowledge is automated is an initiative that works behind the scenes to increase productivity and improve teamwork – even if it is implemented under unexpected circumstances.