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Creating and maintaining a unified corporate culture in a work-from-home environment

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This is an exciting time to be involved with KM.

Many new technologies are now available to address complex organizational issues—conversational AI, intelligent search, machine learning, knowledge graphs, and others. But, many firms, nonprofits, and not-for-profits are not configured to take advantage of these new technologies. The work-from-home (WFH) environment only exacerbates the problem. (Gallup reports that 20% of the U.S. workforce operates remotely 100% of the time, while another 26% operates remotely part of the time.) In a WFH environment, the challenge of getting KM adopted by your remote team is one that will tax even the most able manager.

Organizations face three issues:

How to construct a culture that is positive and satisfying to each member of the team

How to obtain productivity from team members in the WFH environment

How to ensure that team members continue to add to their KM skillset

In many firms, culture simply emerges over time without being planned and enforced. A firm’s culture, informally, is “what happens around here when the boss isn’t around.” More formally, organizational culture is the degree of agreement and commitment to a set of values and expected behaviors. When such agreements and commitments are widely and deeply held, the culture is considered “strong”; when the agreement and commitment are only held by few in the organization, the culture is considered “weak.”

Clarify the organization’s mission

If there is evidence that your organization has a weak culture, you need to clarify your organization’s mission, values, and vision. Then, address what behaviors are necessary to obtain those ends. What are the actual practices that your organization takes—especially HR practices (recruiting, hiring, performance management, compensation, reward systems, benefits, etc.)? Does management at all levels behave in ways that result in reinforcing the desired behaviors, help to realize the vision, contribute to achieving the mission, and remain constantly faithful to the values? At all levels, management must serve as reliable role models.

It is beneficial to perform a cultural audit to understand the culture that is in place within your organization. Are people so busy that they lack the time to get their heads around new procedures? Do members of the team have sufficient intellectual flexibility to absorb new approaches to getting their work done? Are the team members open to new ways to getting their work done faster, with less effort, and more creatively? Do your team members enjoy collaborating with their peers, or are they more apt to be lone rangers? Does your organization have a culture in place that accepts well-meaning failures? Does it encourage learning and growth? Does it focus on customer satisfaction or personal advancement? Organizations, including those merely curious about whether it makes sense for them to get involved with KM, need to have the people within the organization prepared to change their behaviors to learn about, understand, be sympathetic to, and adopt cutting-edge KM practices.

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