Companies, now more than ever, need effective knowledge management in place for their distributed workforce
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more companies are all moving to remote work at scale in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jack Dorsey, CEO of both Twitter and Square, informed employees at each company that they can continue working from home forever. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, quickly followed suit — albeit with more stipulations.
Shopify will keep their offices closed all the way through 2021. When those offices do reopen, many employees will continue to work from home. Office centricity is over, CEO Tobi Lutke declared in his announcement tweet. For a more extensive list of companies going remote, checkout this WFH company tracker, which includes just some of the most successful tech companies around the world making the switch, like Square and Coinbase.
This move to a distributed workforce is a necessary and practical step that will allow companies across the globe to restart their operations. But the world had already been slowly becoming more amenable to remote work over the last decade, and the current crisis will only expedite this trend — Shopify isn’t the only company considering making this move permanent.
However, one of the big issues that will arise — and one that permeates all aspects of a business — is that of knowledge management. Even in normal times, decision-makers at all levels need access to current and reliable data and information to take informed actions. A previous article of mine on why your company needs a central hub for data insights discusses this.
In a remote world, shoulder-taps will be a thing of the past, there is no more water cooler, no more last-minute presentations. Without effective frameworks already in place, how can businesses ensure that data insights from the data science team are effectively transferred across the entire organisation? How can they continue to be data driven?
The Role of Data Analytics
Every company serious about gaining competitive advantage has an internal data science team analysing data and uncovering new insights about the business day-to-day. Putting all this analysis to work is the next — and most important — step. This entails devising strategies and tactics to take actions based on discoveries and insights from said data.
Some companies do this well & have implemented company-wide systems to ensure that everyone has access to the relevant information for their respective roles. These systems facilitate:
- Discoverability — anyone should be able to find, navigate, and stay up to date on analytics reports relevant to their business roles.
- Consumability — any analysis or report should be understandable to all readers, both the technical and non-technical stakeholders.
- Collaboration — insights should be easy to share and discuss. One way to do this is to promote discussion via comments, reviews, questions, and requests.
- Culture — knowledge management should be widely adopted and valued by all data stakeholders (this means absolutely everyone within the business). Everyone in the organisation should be making data-informed decisions.
The right system used in the right ways makes a real difference to an organisation’s capabilities. Even in normal times, companies continuing with ad-hoc, one-to-one sharing of results in place of business-wide publishing are already falling behind. The real power of data analytics is in the ways that it drives conversations and collective understanding towards greater business value.
Work-From-Home Changes Everything
The shift to remote working policies will hit companies without these systems the hardest. When teams are remote, there is less space for this kind of communication. Businesses, therefore, need to be much more deliberate about knowledge sharing, because for a remote workforce with no central knowledge hub:
- Analytics and reports are shared on one-to-one bases, upon request. This means that useful insights get siloed within various sub-groups.
- Communication & continuous feedback, essential elements to turning data insights into action at scale, are difficult to achieve.
- It is much more difficult to drive discussion around the latest report as happens in team meetings & presentations. Discussion across different teams and departments becomes virtually non-existent.
- Employees miss out on learning opportunities coming from the data team’s analytics reporting, which in turn, will inevitably impact a company’s bottom line.
Implementing a system that disseminates data analytics across the business can help alleviate these issues. When knowledge is centralised and current, your whole team is aligned. While your team might be distributed, your knowledge is all in one place.
Below are just some of the ways the right system for your company can drive value:
- Improved productivity: Less time searching for information in cluttered inboxes and unorganised repositories if information is widely published to larger groups.
- Increased employee engagement: By providing a space for employees to discuss results, ask questions and provide feedback to the data team, the potential of your analytics can really be unlocked, while also keeping the remote workforce connected.
- Knowledge loss prevention: A system that facilitates better knowledge transfer (e.g. when employees leave a company for various reasons) means less time will be spent on recreating, & more time on building upon, existing knowledge.
- More informed decisions: By giving employees access to a central knowledge system, all teams and employees are encouraged to use the power of this shared information to contribute to greater business value.
Effective knowledge management with the goal of maintaining connections throughout the company and making data-informed decisions at all levels are essential for businesses to navigate successfully through the coming months — and beyond. Centralising knowledge sharing, communication, and collaboration are key.
The current pandemic will have a lasting impact on the way that we work, communicate, and collaborate. Data and analytics will become even more important in how businesses make decisions. It is likely that work-from-home, even when no longer a mandate, will become the preferred option for many employers and employees. It is therefore important that companies not just adapt to this new remote world, but prosper from it by implementing the right tools and strategies to empower employees and teams.
A dedicated knowledge curation platform can serve the demands of data and analytics for a remote workforce. Democratising access to data-based reporting not only facilitates the wholesale sharing of analyses and results but also drives learning, collaboration, and productivity, thus improving business outcomes for the entire organisation.