How knowledge bases can help remote teams work more collaboratively
Catherine Heath | June 9, 2021
Remote working has been growing steadily by 44% in the last 5 years, and there has even been a rise in remote teams. It’s becoming more the norm for employees to work from home at least some of the time, and exclusively remote teams are becoming more and more common. This means that one company can have team members based all over the world, which poses a logistical nightmare!
But it doesn’t have to be this way. KnowledgeOwl is a global remote team, and we like to think we make it work.
Since company culture is about the way you work, it’s important to invest time and energy into your processes. Knowledge-sharing is a key process that enables a successful remote team, and having the right knowledge management software is a crucial part of enabling the sharing process to take place.
Challenges facing remote teams
Sharing knowledge is difficult for any team, let alone one that is working remotely. There is the added difficulty of generally not seeing team members in person, so having a platform for sharing knowledge is crucially important.
Especially in customer support, you may have employees working on one side of the world, who need information from a coworker on the other side. It’s not practical for one employee to send an email and have to wait for the answer, so you need to invest in the right tools.
Remote teams run the risk of developing as silos, with important information kept exclusively in the tools belonging to certain teams. All customer information may reside exclusively in your sales team’s CRM tool, for example, with other employees unable to access it.
Why sharing knowledge is important
If team members leave, you don’t want them to be taking the only source of knowledge with them. Your company will be far more productive if you have processes that keep valuable information within your team. This is where a team knowledge base comes in handy, where you can record vital knowledge for posterity and ensure that all teams have access to it.
Establish a process where you define the most important areas of knowledge within your company and commit them to your knowledge base. Nominate a knowledge leader who can drive this process and gather content from Subject Matter Experts.
Knowledge management is particularly important in customer support, where you have employees tackling customer problems all day. The majority of customers say that getting a satisfactory response or talking to someone knowledgeable is essential for a great customer service experience.
When working remotely, avoid the need for coworkers to constantly email each other by keeping your team knowledge base regularly updated. It slows down productivity if team members are fielding the same sorts of questions over and over again, so make your knowledge base the go-to resource for employees searching for information.
It’s vital for employees to be able to get a sense of what knowledge is held within their own team to work more cooperatively, so a knowledge base is one fantastic way to achieve this.
How can you share knowledge in your team
Now you know why it’s important to share knowledge in your remote team, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of how you can actually do that. Communication is the foundation of your knowledge-sharing strategy and requires a collaborative team culture along with the right communication tools.
You need to create useful documentation that enables collaboration to take place remotely. Create a team knowledge base to host your documentation and keep your training materials consistent and up-to-date.
1. Execute a searchable knowledge base
None of these tips mentioned here would be possible without a robust, searchable knowledge base for your employees to find knowledge. Building a knowledge base is the best way to get employees sharing knowledge with their remote coworkers.
It doesn’t have to be difficult – start with making a list of the most important information to include and the team members who can provide the answers.
You need to find the right knowledge base software to provide a solution for your team. We can recommend our very own KnowledgeOwl which is perfect for creating internal knowledge bases for remote teams, and comes with many useful features – different user permissions, article versioning, secure log in, and more.
2. Build a communication culture
Get your executives to encourage a communication culture – it should come from the top down. Get them contributing content to your knowledge base and encouraging other team members to share.
Open up knowledge-sharing across the company and encourage cross-functional collaboration to connect different roles and teams in the company. This is especially important as your company grows and teams become more and more specialized.
Encourage staff from different departments to network with each other by inviting employees to relevant meetings from different departments, and organize lunch and learns.
3. Create training materials
Use your knowledge base to deliver training materials that help your new hires get up to speed. Think about what you would have found useful when you first started at the company and creating an onboarding program to welcome new recruits. This has the added benefit of getting new hires familiar with your knowledge base and used to turning to it for guidance.
When you get everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, you reduce some of the nervousness that new hires feel when they are getting to grips with your business. Everyone remembers what it’s like to feel afraid to ask a silly question about their role or about the company in general, so a knowledge base must be a good place to turn.
Enabling comments and community
If your knowledge base is internal, your employees can interact with each other in the comments and it will build trust in your community. KnowledgeOwl comes ready-made with a comments functionality built in so you just enable comments for your knowledge base.
A great knowledge base can also function as a type of forum, if team members are able to comment on the documentation. Comments are also a good way to get feedback on whether your knowledge base content is doing the job you intended it to.
Building trust between coworkers
Ultimately, remote team or not, your people are your company’s foundations. By providing a useful knowledge base for your team, you’ll be helping to build trust between coworkers because it won’t feel like people are just sitting on important knowledge.
When employees are contributing to your documentation, it’s a great way to see how much work your coworkers are doing. Your staff will feel appreciated for their hard work and rewarded that they are helping others. Other employees can use the documentation to do their job more effectively and your staff will be helping each other to flourish.
Sharing knowledge in remote teams doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right knowledge base software, your team will be working more collaboratively and be much more productive in their jobs.
There are many tools out there for remote teams to help them work collaboratively, and knowledge base software is one type. Check out our article comparing different types of knowledge base software for teams.
KnowledgeOwl provides specialist knowledge base software for companies at a very competitive price. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more at firstname.lastname@example.org.