By now, you’ve read and heard numerous times that these are unprecedented times to live and work in. Never before have businesses experienced such disruption, with much of the workforce forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.
With this “new normal” of distributed teams, there is a risk of stifled productivity due to information silos and scattered knowledge. A recent Panopto report found that U.S. businesses could save anywhere from $2.7 million to $265 million by improving knowledge-sharing, a stark statistic that demonstrates that leaders cannot ignore this problem, especially in these times.
From the remote onboarding of new starters to looking for information from co-workers, we’ll have to do things differently — but also we have an opportunity to do things better. Given that remote work isn’t going anywhere, now is the time to drive learning and knowledge-sharing in your organization — but how?
1. Create a Single Source of Truth
Imagine that someone is asking your support team questions that only the product manager knows or questions about your solutions whose answers are stuck in your sales customer relationship management platform (CRM). Newly remote teams are always surprised by the amount of knowledge that is scattered and locked up in the minds of their colleagues.
You might think that a quick instant message or email to ask a question is the solution, but things move quickly in crisis mode, and a lot of useful information can be lost in conversation. These virtual shoulder taps build up and can kill productivity.
Organize and centralize your knowledge so employees have everything they need to do their job well, without disrupting others. Use this time to bring together your collective knowledge into one searchable platform and create an organizational memory that does not lose useful information. For example, many platforms offer on-demand access to answers to repeat questions, best practices and learning resources.
2. Don’t Try to Replicate Your Classroom Training Online
Many people assume that learning and development (L&D) is best suited for boardrooms and lecture halls. But rather than trying to replicate everything from an offline classroom in an online setting, L&D teams should use this opportunity to filter the learning that actually requires synchronous communication. They can convert the rest of it into formats that give learners more flexibility.
When your organization works asynchronously, you don’t have to wait for a cohort to be in the same place at the same time to administer updated material, and you can deliver training courses more quickly.
3. Support Furloughed Employees
Until last month, I had never used the word “furlough.” To be honest, I’m not quite sure I knew what it meant — but now, we all do. Although furloughed employees cannot work, they can participate in training. Help furloughed workers take this opportunity to invest in their personal and professional development. You don’t want them to feel like they’ve been left out by the organization, so use learning as a way to engage them.
There is a whole host of free training resources available online now. Encourage employees to engage with more informal material, like podcasts and blogs, so that there isn’t too much pressure on them to learn formally while navigating this stressful time. The last thing businesses want and need is for staff to return to work feeling isolated and undervalued, which can affect productivity more than anything.
While these are unprecedented times, shrouded with uncertainty, businesses shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of sharing knowledge as we all adapt to a more remote way of life. Remote working has its benefits and shouldn’t be interpreted as isolated working. It’s the job of learning and development professionals and business leaders to ensure their teams feel supported and communicated with throughout this period.