In the work-from-home era it is more important now than ever to have clearly defined workflows and processes. In many cases, it is no longer possible for employees to simply walk over to the next desk and ask a colleague how to do something or work through a problem together. Instead, everything must now be written down and businesses should have a central repository where people can find these policies and procedures without having to explicitly ask someone.

Typically in any organization, there are people who know how to do certain things, and what the work-arounds are when problems arise. These people hold key knowledge for the company, but it doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s locked inside their heads. It only becomes useful to the organization at large when they share it.

If that person were to leave the company, and there is no documentation of their role and knowledge base, their expertise will depart with them. To avoid that potential scenario, and having to reinvent the wheel with new employees, it pays to find a way to document knowledge.

Learn from experts

GitLab is a company that has been fully remote from Day One. Today, even with more than a thousand employees, it continues to have a fully remote workforce, and as it has grown it has learned some of the best practices for keeping a remote team humming along. In fact, the company released a free e-book earlier this year outlining some of the lessons they have learned along the way.

The 38 page booklet is aptly named “The Remote Playbook” because it outlines how to build a remote company and all that entails. Chapter three, for example looks the foundations of remote work, and one of the keys to that is documenting everything, and they do mean everything.

“By adopting a handbook-first approach, team members have ‘a single source of truth’ for answers. Even though documentation takes a little more time upfront, it prevents people from having to ask the same question repeatedly,” the company wrote in the handbook.

Find a good tool

You can also use a tool like a searchable Wiki or a rich notes app like Dropbox Paper, Salesforce Quip or Evernote. Whatever you use for the container, the key is to get people to document what they do and start from the top down. That also means publishing your business plan and company goals.

Having a central place to search for policies and procedures, so long as you keep them up-to-date and make them a priority, should make it easier to transition to new employees, share jobs and give everyone a clear understanding of the company’s goals and key processes.

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Posted by Ron Miller

Ron Miller is a freelance technology reporter and blogger. He is contributing editor at EContent Magazine and enterprise reporter at TechCrunch.

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