With 74% of companies planning to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time post-pandemic, helping each employee work at their best in a hybrid workplace is top of mind for many executives.
Productivity climbed during the pandemic, but the stakes are high for getting the hybrid workplace right.
Relevancy—in knowledge, documents, product information, and training materials—is key to promoting employee collaboration and productivity. Personalized information helps both distributed and in-person employees work more efficiently and be more proficient by giving them relevant information when they need it.
The key is understanding what employees need to find for their respective jobs and how that information relates to products and/or customers. In other words: Context is king.
What's more, increasing employee access to knowledge strengthens the customer experience.
Finding the context that provides relevant results begins with a solid knowledge management strategy that has four building blocks: align, access, evolve, and reinforce.
Aligning the vision of knowledge management goals is important to arriving at a solution that works across the enterprise—so that everyone knows where the solution is heading and why. It involves understanding that knowledge sharing adds value to all levels of the organization and exploring the long-term benefits, such as easier collaboration and better customer experiences.
Part of this process means examining the current approach to knowledge management, including questioning assumptions about why information is arranged and accessed and checking metrics for determining success. These help determine the elements that need to go into a new or adjusted knowledge management solution.
Understanding how elements in the organization connect is key to designing a solution that gives employees access to the knowledge that they need, when they need it—and it needs to be knowledge that is relevant to them in the context of their work. Start by taking an inventory of knowledge requirements across the organization so that you know what people are looking for and how they're searching for it. This also uncovers stale content, which can muddy search results.
Knowledge management solutions evolve—both in understanding employee needs and in how the solution builds value and meets those needs. This lets employees contribute directly to shared knowledge as it changes. Documents quickly can become out of date, and encouraging employees to contribute to updating knowledge gives them more ownership and independence.
Knowledge evolution also looks back to see if the knowledge is being used, who is using it and how, and tying the use of the knowledge to customer success metrics. In other words, you analyze your knowledge to see if it's helping you achieve what you want to do.
Analytics also can help determine what employees are searching for and the knowledge that they turn to the most—giving the organization an idea of areas where they might need to improve processes, such as onboarding, and gaps in knowledge and how they can use it for product improvement.
Reinforce the need for employee participation rewarding employees for contributing. Those rewards should focus on outcomes, not activities. For example, setting a goal of editing a certain number of documents a week encourages people to edit documents, not create high-quality documents. Creating a document that many employees use is focused on outcomes.
Those outcomes should connect to the organization's values, which are ideas and concepts that employees should already be bought into.
Best practices in knowledge management strategy building include:
- Starting small so that you can get a thorough understanding of one area at a time
- Capitalizing on momentum as employees hear of successes
- Realigning the knowledge management strategy as the discovery process grows
And AI can help, especially in knowledge evolution when AI can understand what a user is searching for based on user type. For example, AI can show marketing employees documents related to their specific roles, making sure results are always optimized.
AI can also help capture how employees search for information and analyze that data to show more relevant results every time another employee searches for that information.
Knowledge management paired with search gives insight to both the voice of the customer and the voice of the employee. And search technology should support knowledge management initiatives, not dictate them. We shouldn't have workers adapt to technology; technology should adapt to the flow of work.
Bonnie Chase Bio -
Bonnie Chase is a Director of Product Marketing at Coveo. As a self-proclaimed product nerd, she has a passion for creating meaningful experiences through storytelling, technology, and design. Prior to working in product, Bonnie spent a decade in knowledge management, focusing on content strategy, knowledge creation, and user experience, helping enterprise companies empower their users through self-service.