Inefficient knowledge sharing costs the average large U.S. business (17,700+ employees) nearly $45 million a year in lost productivity. Employees waste hours upon hours waiting for their colleagues to share the information they need to do their jobs.
And for dispersed teams who don’t share an office space, exchanging information is more difficult. Since those workers miss out on casual hallway conversation and tacit knowledge they would otherwise pick up through proximity to their coworkers, remote employees have to be more intentional about seeking out and sharing knowledge.
Prevent information silos and protect your remote teams’ productivity by giving them the tools, skills and incentives to share their expertise and boost your company’s collective knowledge.
TL;DR: Knowledge sharing
- Knowledge sharing is the exchange of information, skills, or expertise among individuals, groups, or organizations.
- Knowledge sharing involves exchanging information in the workplace, fostering efficiency, collaboration, and innovation.
- Benefits include improved decision-making, enhanced productivity, innovation, stronger relationships, risk reduction, employee empowerment, talent attraction, and adaptability.
- To encourage knowledge sharing, lead by example, incentivize sharing, hold skill-sharing sessions, use knowledge-sharing tools, and document knowledge.
- Knowledge management tools like Scribe, Nuclino, Google Workspace, Bloomfire, Confluence, GitBook, Tettra, ProProfs Knowledge Base, Notion, and Threads can aid knowledge sharing.
- Knowledge sharing tips include using a cloud-based knowledge-management system, conducting content audits, sharing video recordings, scheduling regular meetings, and facilitating informal communication to boost organizational knowledge.
What is knowledge sharing?
Knowledge sharing is the exchange of information, skills or expertise among individuals, groups or organizations.
Knowledge sharing in the workplace fosters a more efficient, collaborative and innovative environment, leading to enhanced organizational success.
What are the benefits of knowledge sharing?
In essence, knowledge sharing is the lifeblood of a thriving organization. It unlocks the collective intelligence of the workforce, drives innovation, and empowers employees to contribute their best.
Here are the key benefits of knowledge sharing:
- Improves decision-making: When employees have access to a collective pool of knowledge, they can make more informed decisions, leading to better problem-solving and strategic planning.
- Enhances productivity: Knowledge sharing streamlines processes and reduces duplication of effort. Employees can learn from each other's expertise, saving time and resources and increasing efficiency and productivity.
- Drives innovation: By sharing ideas and experiences, employees can spark creativity and generate new solutions to barriers and challenges.
- Strengthens relationships: Knowledge sharing breaks down silos and promotes collaboration among teams and departments. Employees build trust and camaraderie, creating a more cohesive and supportive work environment.
- Reduces risk: Sharing lessons learned from past mistakes prevents them from being repeated, reducing risk and promoting continuous improvement.
- Empowers employees: Knowledge sharing empowers employees to take ownership of their work and contribute their expertise to your company's success.
- Attracts and retains talent: A culture of knowledge sharing attracts and retains top talent. Employees are more engaged and motivated when they feel their knowledge is valued and contributes to the organization's growth.
- Adaptability: Knowledge sharing enables organizations to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and emerging trends.
Workplace knowledge sharing best practices
It's important to create a culture that encourages knowledge sharing. In a survey by Panopto and YouGov, 60 percent of respondents said it’s “difficult,” “very difficult,” or “nearly impossible” to get the information they need from their colleagues to do their job.
However, a separate study from Deloitte showed that the number of workers who find it easy or very easy to obtain information from their colleagues is “23 percentage points higher among those who say they work in a company where enabling knowledge transfer is a major priority.”
The skill of knowledge sharing involves the ability to effectively communicate and transfer knowledge to others. Here are a few knowledge sharing best practices that can help you overcome knowledge challenges at work.
1. Lead by example
A knowledge-sharing company culture starts at the top. Share knowledge with your teams regularly and ask them about their work. This will increase your employees’ comfort level and inspire them to both ask questions and share what they know.
2. Incentivize sharing know-how
Reward employees who are generous with their expertise with prizes like gift cards or company swag or by acknowledging them publicly for their efforts. You can also tie knowledge sharing to job performance.
3. Hold skill-sharing sessions
Formal training programs, workshops, and courses are another way to transfer specific knowledge and skills from one person or group to others. These structured programs provide a systematic approach to learning and development, ensuring that essential knowledge is effectively shared across the organization.
Host lunch-and-learns or skill-sharing sessions where your SMEs educate their colleagues on some facet of the job during normal work hours. And be sure to record them so the knowledge lives on!
When sharing know-how is encouraged and expected, it will become second nature and prevent knowledge-hoarding within your organization.
4. Use knowledge sharing tools
Collaborative platforms and knowledge bases are also valuable tools for knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing tools make it easy for workers to exchange information and access the information they need to do their jobs.
Every remote and hybrid team needs tools to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing. They provide a centralized location for storing and accessing knowledge, making it easier for employees to collaborate and learn from one another.
5. Document your knowledge
Documentation is another important aspect of knowledge sharing. Creating and maintaining process documents, guides, and training manuals helps capture and organize knowledge for easy access by others. These resources serve as a reference point for individuals seeking information or guidance on specific topics.
The top knowledge sharing tools
New platforms and tools that can take your teamwork to the next level are emerging all the time. Here are some of the most widely used knowledge sharing platforms and tools.
Scribe is an AI-powered tool that documents your processes for you. In seconds, you can turn any workflow into a visual step-by-step guide—complete with text, links and annotated screenshots.
Scribe cuts your process documentation and knowledge-sharing time in half, helping you build SOPs and step-by-step guides in seconds. If you're the go-to person who's always answering questions, Scribe will transform how you develop and share knowledge.
Scribe's knowledge sharing features include:
- Create and share knowledge in seconds: Convert any digital process into a visual step-by-step guide almost instantly whether you are on a browser, mobile or desktop screen.
- AI-enhanced efficiency: Leveraging the power of large language models like GPT-4, Scribe is AI-smart. You can add relevant titles, descriptions and additional context automatically. Or simply ask the generative AI to write the document for you.
- Sensitive data redaction: Easily blur out sensitive info in screenshots.
- Custom branding: Your guides shouldn't just be functional; they should be a reflection of your brand. With Scribe Pro's custom branding options, your documents will look as professional as they are useful.
- Flexible sharing options: Whether it's an email link, an embedded guide in your company wiki, or a downloadable PDF, you can quickly share information in the format that works best for your team.
- Create multi-resource guides: With Scribe Pages, you can create multi-resource documents by adding text, hyperlinks, multiple Scribes, videos and more.
Nuclino is a versatile knowledge sharing platform that combines wiki-like functionality with a focus on visual representation.
With Nuclino, you can create interconnected knowledge bases using blocks, which can contain text, images, links, and other elements.
Nuclino's visual interface makes it easy to organize and navigate information, and it offers a variety of collaboration features, such as real-time editing and commenting.
3. Google Workspace
Google Workspace is a suite of cloud-based productivity tools that includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drive, and other applications.
While not specifically designed for knowledge sharing, many teams find Google Workspace's collaborative features are valuable for creating and sharing documents, presentations and spreadsheets.
Its integration with other Google services, such as Gmail and Calendar, further enhances its usefulness for team collaboration.
Bloomfire is an AI-based knowledge-sharing platform designed for enterprise organizations. It provides a centralized repository for storing and organizing your documentation, as well as tools for creating and sharing training materials and best practices.
Bloomfire's robust search functionality makes it easy to find the information you need, and its analytics tools provide insights into how knowledge is being used within your organization.
Atlassian's Confluence is a popular knowledge sharing and collaboration platform. It offers a variety of features for creating and managing wiki-style documents, as well as tools for collaboration and project management.
Confluence integrates with other Atlassian products like as Jira and Trello, making it a good choice if your organization already uses those tools.
GitBook is a knowledge sharing platform specifically designed for creating and publishing technical documentation. It offers a version control system similar to Git, making it easy to track changes and collaborate on documents.
GitBook also integrates with other GitHub services, making it a good choice for developers and technical teams.
Tettra is an AI-powered knowledge management system designed to be easy to use. It offers a variety of templates and tools for creating knowledge base articles, as well as integrations with other popular productivity tools, such as Slack and Zapier.
Tettra is a good choice for small and medium-sized businesses looking for a simple and intuitive knowledge sharing solution.
8. ProProfs Knowledge Base
ProProfs Knowledge Base is a cloud-based knowledge sharing platform that offers a variety of features for creating and managing knowledge base articles. It includes a drag-and-drop editor, a powerful search engine, and a variety of reporting and analytics tools.
ProProfs Knowledge Base is a good choice if your businesses need a comprehensive knowledge sharing solution with a strong focus on content creation.
Notion is a versatile note-taking and collaboration tool that can also be used for knowledge sharing. It offers a variety of templates and tools for creating and organizing information, as well as real-time collaboration features.
Notion's flexibility makes it a good choice for teams that need a knowledge sharing solution that can be adapted to their specific needs.
Threads is a knowledge-sharing platform that is designed to help teams organize and share information in a structured way.
Threads are a canvas teams can use to share updates, plans, documentation, announcements, host discussions, and present their work. It uses a threaded conversation format, which makes it easy to track discussions and follow the flow of information.
Threads is a good choice for teams that need a way to organize and share information in a way that is easy to navigate and understand.
Adding tools and knowledge sharing Chrome extensions like these to your tech stack can improve productivity and employee engagement, as well as reduce distractions and frustration among your remote teams.
Together, these knowledge sharing systems enable your teams to share and document what they know, which makes turnover less painful when employees move on.
What's the difference between knowledge sharing & knowledge management?
It’s important to understand the difference between knowledge sharing and knowledge management platforms so you can choose the tools that meet your teams’ needs.
A knowledge management system is a digital library of information about your company that’s accessible 24/7.
A knowledge management system allows employees to access, share, and reuse knowledge stored in the organization, both tacit knowledge (information gained through experience or intuition) and explicit knowledge (information that is easy to document, share and learn). Its purpose is to empower people to self-serve information and free up knowledge-holders to work on more complicated tasks. Most knowledge-management systems offer one-way communication.
A knowledge sharing platform is what SMEs use to actively share know-how, synchronously or asynchronously. Knowledge sharing tools take all kinds of forms, from instant messaging to video chat to screen-recording platforms.
The most powerful platforms enable two-way communication so your teams can make sure the information is always up to date. Once a process is captured with a knowledge-sharing platform, it can be stored within your knowledge-management system for future reference.
For some teams, either a knowledge-sharing platform or a knowledge-management system is sufficient, but many teams use both.
Workplace knowledge sharing tips and examples
We asked leaders of remote and hybrid teams for tips on effective knowledge sharing and received tried-and-true tactics you can implement for your teams.
1. Use a cloud-based knowledge management system
Almost every leader who responded to our survey said they rely on some kind of knowledge base for documentation. This makes everything from process documentation to webinars to professional development resources available to anyone, anywhere. Officely CEO Max Shepherd-Cross, whose teams use Notion for their knowledge base, said, “we are more transparent now than when we were in the office.”
2. Conduct content audits
As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems with knowledge bases is that content often gets outdated if it isn’t regularly maintained. Yarooms’ CEO Dragos Badea offered this solution: “Formalize a content review process that happens on a regular basis to weed out old and irrelevant documents, make updates and keep things from getting too bloated.”
3. Share video recordings
Michael Alexis, the CEO of TeamBuilding, said his teams rely on videos for knowledge sharing. “The reason [it] is so useful is that it captures nuances that supplement written communication, working as a ‘show and tell.’” With video, onboarding employees can watch veteran team members walk through a process again and again.
4. Schedule regular meetings
Leena AI Product & Growth Director, Chirayu Akotiya, recommends regular stand-up calls where team members provide updates and discuss their goals and blockers. Shepherd-Cross advises against arranging too many update calls, which is inefficient. “Our golden rule is that calls should never be organized for data transmission, only data transformation,” he said.
5. Facilitate informal communication
So much valuable information within a company is tacit and hard to document that it’s important to create space for informal interactions. Badea recommends providing your teams with a social platform like Yammer or Slack to get answers quickly. ResumeSeed HR Specialist, Diane Cook, says she instituted coffee chats and office hours for face-to-face meetings, “giving my team the sense that my door is always open and a clearer direction of best times to ask questions/ping me for advice.”
Implementing these best practices will help increase your organization’s collective knowledge, giving you a competitive advantage.
Which employees need to participate in knowledge sharing?
All employees can participate in the Knowledge sharing process. But it's especially important for certain groups of employees to be active knowledge sharers, as they have the potential to make the most significant impact on your knowledge base.
- Subject matter experts (SMEs) possess deep expertise in a particular area and are usually the go-to people for information and advice.
- Experienced employees have a wealth of knowledge to share, provide valuable insights to newer employees, and should be encouraged to share their knowledge through formal and informal channels.
- Frontline employees interact with customers and clients daily, have a unique perspective on your products and services, and should be encouraged to share their knowledge through regular meetings and feedback sessions.
- Project managers have a deep understanding of your processes and procedures, and can share their knowledge through project documentation, presentations, and knowledge-sharing sessions.
- New employees bring fresh perspectives and ideas, can benefit from learning from more experienced employees. New hires should be encouraged to participate in knowledge-sharing activities.
Increase employee satisfaction with effective knowledge sharing
Remote and hybrid work isn’t going anywhere. In fact, today’s workforce demands it: According to FlexJobs’ 10th Annual Survey, a staggering 97 percent of workers want their employers to allow at least some remote work.
The better your teams can share and access organizational knowledge, the more productive they will be while working remotely—which is a win for them and for you. Ready to streamline your knowledge sharing? Sign up for Scribe today and work smarter, not harder!