OK, so if I told you one action would boost hybrid work productivity, make it easier to get new employees up to speed and lower your risks you’d jump at it wouldn’t you?
Well here it is …….build a knowledge base!
Support organisations have been using knowledge bases for decades to boost productivity
Online and telephone support organisations have been building and using knowledge bases and Wikis for decades, because one-and-done has always been the mantra of support organisations and call centres. They need the information to satisfy a customer’s query right now, at their fingertips. It’s not acceptable to send a message or e-mail to someone who knows and tell their customer that they’ll get an answer in a few days. So why is it in offices? The other reason that technical support teams love a knowledge base is that it helps increase the whole team’s knowledge each time a new problem is found and resolved. It’s not fixed and forgotten – the fix goes into the knowledge base or Wiki and it’s there the next time someone comes across this issue. This is just common sense.
Most but not all companies keep their HR type information centrally but business information is rarely annotated on a knowledge base. While this was never a great idea, in the pre-pandemic world it wasn’t seen as a problem because you could just wander down the office and ask someone.
Hybrid work will make it even harder to track down someone who can answer a question
The sudden ramp-up of remote work brought about by the COVID pandemic shone a very bright light on the weaknesses of this approach. Overnight it got a lot harder to find the experts who could answer the difficult questions. Even people to answer day-to-day questions became a lot harder to track down, especially for new joiners. This is even worse in a hybrid work situation. At least when everyone was remote you knew where the expert should be but with hybrid you can’t be so sure. They could be in an office (there may be more than one), working remotely or somewhere between both.
Knowledge in key experts’ heads represents a risk to the business
I’ve worked for several companies where key individuals were identified in regular risk reviews as having so much knowledge that there would be issues if they were to leave, but little was done about this other than to maybe pay them better! These individuals can also become a bottleneck where several projects need information from them on a short timeframe. Of course, these guys will always complain they just don’t have enough time to write everything down because of their day job and there’s a level of vested interest in not doing so.
Senior management support is needed to make this change happen
It’s so much easier to measure the loss in productivity and customer service when you have a customer hanging on the phone for an answer. When it’s office work it’s much simpler to just see it as just one of the many frustrations of life. I’ve seen lots of companies try to do this but eventually give up, overcome by the objections of the experts who need to populate the knowledge base. So if you’re going to make this happen make sure you’ve sold the idea to senior management and you’ve got their backing.
Before you start
Have a look at our review of the best knowledge bases for remote work. Importantly don’t just buy a knowledge base and get your guys keying straight in. Think about what data you need to store and how you’re going to structure and present it. Decide on your strategy and put a design together before you go jumping in with both feet. Think about who is going to be allowed to enter and modify data and who just gets read only access and your approach to reviewing data before it goes live.
So build a knowledge base if you want to dramatically boost hybrid work productivity.
Gren Gale is a consultant and speaker in Remote Work and Project Management and has been named as one of the top 19 Key Opinion Leaders globally in remote work in Who’s Who in Remote Working? He is author of the Remote Project Manager and Remote Work The New Normal.
Articles and reviews on this site are written from an unbiased viewpoint. We only review products which are relevant to Remote Work or Project Management and ones we believe in. Once this article on how to boost hybrid work productivity was written we looked to see if some of the links could generate affiliate income. It won’t make us rich but it helps pay the rent!