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Distributed teams need good knowledge management

The rise of the WFH platform. You might need these 3 things first.

We’re all working in a whole new world for a while, thanks to COVID-19. And, thanks to the worldwide disruption to normal #CorporateLyf, knowledge tech companies like Notion are thriving and capturing booming valuations.   

Maybe, the way we work has changed for good. While people are still getting used to the novelty of working remotely and find it fun to see teammates’ pets and living room art, it’s also frustrating dealing with the glitches and limitations of our home technology. Sooner or later, though, we’ll all settle into it as our new norm, and probably continue some form of remote working in the longer term.

Knowledge management has always been an important consideration when looking for better ways to get work done. Now, it’s crucial. Here’s some advice for making the new world work better for you.

Baseline: Get a lay of this new land

The various friction points that exist in our tools and techniques under face-to-face conditions, are often much harder to put up for those working remotely. Understand where those gaps are and how the priorities change within a distributed workforce. Observe and ask your teams how confident they are about making decisions when they can’t turn around to a colleague. How do you communicate and collaborate with each other? Is everyone finding the answers and documents they need when they go looking for them? Are the systems you rely on every day performing well enough with everyone working remotely, or do you need to look more closely at how they can integrate for better visibility and knowledge flow?


Strategy: You’ve got to name it to tame it

When you can articulate a knowledge management strategy that aligns with current organisational goals, it’s much easier to communicate the all-important why behind permanent changes to routine. It also gives you something to measure success by. If you don’t have a knowledge management strategy, bring your team together and talk about the organisational goals and how the new remote-first way of working contributes to changing practices. Start making some decisions about centralising knowledge and other documentation, and about how best to interact with it to reduce duplication and inconsistencies. These conversations help you reach agreement on a plan for the way forward.


Trust: Agree on the expectations; Manage the exceptions

Once you have that agreement and everyone is clear on team and personal goals, let them get on with it. We’re all grappling with the question of maintaining a collaborative culture when many have been forced to work apart under challenging conditions; and there’s lots of information coming forth about working effectively as a remote-first team. Gitlab’s Remote Playbook is free for download and has some great advice in it. Even before COVID-19, though, competent people have always worked better when they have the autonomy to deliver on known expectations. They’re also more engaged and motivated. Share the strategy, agree on a plan, let people get on with it, and manage the exceptions.


Want more advice? A Diagnostic Session may be all you need.

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