How to Facilitate Knowledge-Sharing in Remote Work
As workers remain dispersed, organizations need to make a more conscious effort to promote employee connection and knowledge-sharing. Use these tips to keep knowledge flowing across your teams.
Associations are built on sharing knowledge with a community. That applies to an association’s operations as well as its member-facing services. But it’s easy to forget this during the age of remote work, when the knowledge-sharing that might once have happened organically has to be scheduled and screen-shared.
With remote work, we’re “missing out on impromptu hallway conversations and informal gatherings where knowledge is exchanged,” says Stan Garfield, a knowledge management author, speaker, and community leader. “There’s difficulty in establishing trusting relationships that enable future knowledge-sharing to occur.”
Add to that the fact that conversations naturally become more siloed among a dispersed workforce. Yet there are still opportunities to share knowledge in a remote work setting. Consider these tips from Garfield to bolster knowledge-sharing in your organization as employees continue to work from home.
Use an Enterprise Social Network
An enterprise social network (ESN) is an internal, private platform that promotes more frequent and effective communication among employees. ESN platforms such as Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, and Slack function similar to sites like Facebook but are designed specifically with businesses in mind. Research suggests that ESNs can have a positive effect on organizational knowledge-sharing.
Most platforms offer several ways to facilitate knowledge-sharing: Employees can distribute resources with built-in file-sharing tools, share recent learnings on team messaging channels, start topic threads about new work ideas, and access knowledge repositories filled with your organization’s training resources and guides.
An ESN platform is also convenient for casual conversation among remote employees, meaning it could replace the spontaneous water-cooler conversations that are common in the office. Organizations can assign specific conversation starters to each day of the week. To get the ball rolling, have a member of your HR or leadership team act as a moderator who asks questions pertinent to sharing knowledge and keeps conversations going.
“Post using daily themes such as #MondayMaxim, #TuesdayTip, #WednesdayWisdom,” Garfield says.
Create an Internal Knowledge Base
Organizations should make it easy for remote employees to access knowledge-sharing resources and opportunities.
“Make sure that the resources are available online and can be used at any time,” Garfield says. “Provide knowledge repositories and document libraries with associated processes for contribution and maintenance.”
To that end, you can:
- record and upload all of your presentations, webinars, and training sessions
- create on-demand content, such as blog posts on professional development topics
- upload internal resources, such as onboarding documents, FAQs, and brand guidelines
- share supplementary resources from trusted sources, including articles, online courses, and presentations
Knowledge management software, such as Guru and Zendesk, serves as a central hub for employees, letting you store, categorize, and tag all of this content in one location. Once you’ve gathered your resources, Garfield recommends that organizations promote their hubs internally through email or other channels to remind employees that they’re available.
Establish a Culture of Knowledge-Sharing
Managers can also play a role in their employees’ knowledge-sharing efforts. For one, they can allocate time for regular sessions for remote workers to get to know one another, Garfield suggests. These remote knowledge-sharing sessions can take several forms. For example:
- Virtual town hall meetings are companywide gatherings where leadership shares key information.
- Coffee chats are informal meetings with coworkers where participants can share their expertise.
- Peer assists are meetings or workshops bringing together a team that is working on a project and experienced coworkers on other teams.
Leadership can also incentivize knowledge-sharing through strategies such as gamification, where employees are rewarded every time they perform a specific task. Organizations can assign rewards to such knowledge-sharing activities as posting in an ESN group, tagging content in a knowledge repository, or contributing content to a knowledge repository.