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How remote teams can use organic self-service KM tools

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Remote working arrangements have exploded in popularity. A recent study by Slack’s Future Forum found that only 11.6% of employees want to return to full-time office work. With this level of ongoing interest, employers are being forced to adapt. There are three pillars to success in the world of remote work:

  1. Trust
  2. Team building
  3. Transparency

Of these three, transparency is the pillar that can be strengthened by a deliberate cultural emphasis on documentation. Transparency in a remote work setting is powered by a robust knowledge management strategy where everyone on the team shares the collective internal expertise of the organization. Success will not appear just by giving teams access to a knowledge base. Instead, the strategy must ensure that knowledge is organically accessible within the most common workflows and that the culture prioritizes using it whenever necessary.

Organic self-serve knowledge management tools are those that inject knowledge into the places where questions are asked or where work is done. Adopting strategies that incorporate organic elements can dramatically accelerate common support workflows by reducing the friction between accessing knowledge and productive output. A PWC study found that administrators have recognized this disparity and as a result 60% of executives expect to raise spending on virtual collaboration tools and manager training to combat the problem. It is clear that this is mission-critical for remote teams that are isolated from centralized support resources. Once administrators identify what these workflows are, they can begin exploring solutions that enhance the remote employee’s experience and productivity.

There are two primary locations where a remote knowledge worker’s organic knowledge search, capture and sharing occurs:

  • Communication and collaboration platforms
  • Browser-based workflows

Let’s examine how communication platforms and browser-based workflows can be enhanced by organic knowledge management for remote teams.

Communication platforms

If there is one thing that is certain across industries, roles and even seniority levels, it is that remote teams primarily communicate via virtual channels. This may include email and video-conferencing tools (like Zoom and Google Meet), but most frequently, remote teams communicate using internal messaging platforms (like Slack and MS Teams). The popularity of these platforms has skyrocketed, as observed by Trustradius. In the web conferencing software category they saw a 1080% increase in traffic, and for the collaboration software category recorded a traffic increase of 670%. It is in through these mediums that both questions are asked, and answers are given. In essence, internal communication platforms are conduits for knowledge transfer.

This knowledge transaction is permanently captured and accessible forever in the annals of electronic corporate communication repositories, which are inexpensive to retain and are highly conducive to analysis. Notably, analyzing conversational data can unearth persistent knowledge gaps within the organization that have yet to be documented. With this in mind, there is a unique opportunity for knowledge management tools to be merged with communication platforms to make knowledge organically available amidst all of those questions and answers to inject the most accurate knowledge into conversations, as efficiently as possible.

There are three distinct ways to create an organic connection between knowledge and communication workflows. They are:

  • Integration
  • Search
  • Automation

Let’s examine each of these three items in further detail.

Integration

As mentioned, internal messaging platforms are the places where questions are asked and answers are given. Integrations are an important part of creating an organic link to knowledge in a communication platform because the answer part of that informational transaction frequently contains links to content on another platform. That might be an internal wiki, a file in Dropbox, or a document created in Google Docs. Integrating knowledge that is stored in a third-party repository like this one into conversational tools like Slack dramatically improves the experience of the knowledge seeker with improved visibility through content previews and higher overall clarity.

Search

In conversational platforms like Slack, where numerous questions are asked daily, it makes sense to integrate knowledge search functionality beyond the aforementioned integrations. Creating an organic link to knowledge search in a place where a support-seeker is typing in a question could result in faster workflows for everyone.

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