Knowledge management is one of the top three issues that determine a company’s success, according to a Deloitte survey of 3,630 business leaders. However, only nine percent of those business leaders feel ready to address it.
Now that so many of us are working remotely, the ability to effectively share knowledge across an organization is more important — and more challenging — than ever. With that in mind, we asked the leaders of the remote and hybrid teams at Officely, Yarooms, ResumeSeed, TeamBuilding, and Leena AI for their knowledge-sharing best practices. Their advice includes real, lived-in tactics you can apply to improve the flow of information across your organization.Use a cloud-based knowledge-management system.
Virtually every respondent to our survey said they rely on a knowledge base of some kind to document essential information and keep their remote and hybrid teams in the know. Officely CEO Max Shepherd-Cross put it this way: “The three rules of managing a hybrid team are documentation, documentation, documentation.”
Even in-house teams rely on knowledge management systems (sometimes called a wiki or intranet) to make important information accessible to everyone, but they’re even more critical for dispersed teams. Remote workers can’t nudge a neighbor or poke their head into a manager’s office to ask a question. A central, digital repository of company information enables them to search for answers to on-the-job questions without interrupting their colleagues or poring through old emails to find the information they need.
Your knowledge base can include anything, from your company directory to benefits forms to employee checklists and how-to guides to webinars and links to other professional development resources. You can use a straightforward tool like SharePoint or Google Workspace to store and share documents or a more feature-rich platform like Guru, which enables your teams to tag and categorize entries.
Shepherd-Cross, whose teams use Notion, said their documentation process has brought them to a place “where we are more transparent than when we were in the office.”
Conduct regular content audits
A knowledge base is only as useful as its contents. Conduct content reviews to identify outdated or inaccurate entries and keep your wiki current and relevant.
Maintaining a knowledge base isn’t always fun, and it takes time away from your employees’ daily work. People get busy and forget to update it when a new process or software program is implemented, so content can grow stale quickly. And when a company’s knowledge base contains inaccurate or outdated information, employees quickly learn not to trust it and stop using it. That’s why regular content audits are crucial to ensuring your teams are continually getting value from your wiki.
“Formalize a content review process ... to weed out old and irrelevant documents, make updates and keep things from getting too bloated.”
Yarooms’ CEO Dragos Badea advises: “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.” Two ways he suggests doing this are to either create a dedicated auditing team or to designate “content champions” from each department for whom updating the knowledge base becomes part of their job.
You can also choose a knowledge-management tool that lets users provide feedback and ask for updates or additional information from within the page. That way, when someone faces a challenge and turns to the knowledge base for answers and comes up short, they can signal to the page owner that it needs attention.
Share video and screen recordings
You’ve heard the statement, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Don’t rely solely on documents for training and information transfer. Video and screen recordings will enrich your knowledge-sharing capabilities.
TeamBuilding uses video for training and knowledge sharing among its more than 200 remote workers. “The reason this video is so useful,” said CEO Michael Alexis, “is that it captures nuances that supplement written communication, working as a ‘show and tell.’ When new employees onboard with us, they can watch the videos to learn exactly how to do tasks and procedures like our more senior team members.
”With webcam and screen-recording tools like Loom and Soapbox, veteran employees can document their processes while talking the viewer through them. Then, trainees can watch the videos again and again until they feel comfortable doing it on their own. Likewise, a knowledge-sharing tool like Scribe captures the user’s expertise while they work by recording their process and converting it into a step-by-step guide with both text and screenshots.
Both ways enable experienced workers to share their know-how with minimal disruption to their workflows, which makes training new hires less of a burden—even enjoyable—so they’re happy to do it. Alexis also offered this video tip: “Keep it as short as possible. Nobody wants to watch a 15-minute video about how to do a simple thing—if you can make it 15 seconds instead, do it!”
Hold meetings regularly, but avoid impromptu calls
Almost all of our survey respondents also mentioned Zoom chats or standing meetings as a way to keep everyone in the loop.
Chirayu Akotiya, Director, Product & Growth at Leena AI, said a regular standup call where everyone discusses their daily and weekly goals, blockers, and updates “helps to break that communication vacuum, and that means increased accessibility and transparency.”
“Our golden rule is that calls should never be organized for data transmission, only data transformation.”
How often your team meets will depend on your product and workflows, but whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, having it on the calendar helps team members be prepared with their questions and updates when the time is right.
And dedicating specific times for Q&A is key to avoiding disruptions and collaboration overload that can sink productivity. Says Shepherd-Cross: “When working remotely you don’t have the luxury of tapping someone on the shoulder to get status updates or ask a question. The knee-jerk solution is to arrange lots of update calls, but this is really inefficient. Our golden rule is that calls should never be organized for data transmission, only data transformation.”
Designate space for informal communication
Knowledge-sharing best practices include more than just creating a company wiki and documenting processes. It’s important to implement informal communication policies and tools that help create a sense of psychological safety and enable employees to ask one-off or private questions.
Some of the most important knowledge is tacit and ephemeral rather than explicit and codifiable, so it doesn’t lend itself to being stored in a knowledge base—or even shared in a large group.
“You’ll want to set up some sort of internal social network like Yammer as a way for employees to ask questions about particular topics and be directed to where they can find the answers they need,” said Badea. Hundreds of thousands of companies use Slack for this purpose.
Diane Cook, HR Specialist at ResumeSeed, has also instituted town halls, coffee chats, and office hours, “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.”
Finally, allow employees to ask questions—even the ones they’re embarrassed to bring up—without being ridiculed or shamed. This encourages transparency and openness, gives your subject matter experts an opportunity to support and educate their colleagues, and creates a culture that values and prioritizes knowledge sharing.
Build a knowledge-sharing culture
A culture of knowledge sharing will help your employees spend less time searching for answers and more time focusing on the work at hand. Start small, implementing one or two of these best practices at a time to continually improve your teams’ ability to share information effectively.