Workforces worldwide faced a mammoth task in shifting entire teams from the office to a remote work environment. While challenging, many businesses have helped their staff get up and running at home with relative ease and success. As predicted this trend will continue to make an impact even after the pandemic as passed, with many companies already adopting remote work as a permanent option for their employees. It’s been anticipated that up to 78 percent of employees who rarely did home office before the crisis will continue to work remotely in the future.
Software's role in enabling companies to continue working as usual (or as close to usual as possible) has been essential during this period. Video call services like Zoom and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams are seeing soaring user numbers to help companies navigate this mass shift.
But our new reality of remote work has also created new silos and widened the knowledge gap. The very nature of remote work means reduced employee networking, less frequent knowledge sharing and a substantial increase in repetitive questions on messaging platforms.
These silos and challenges may sound familiar because businesses have always experienced duplication of work or loss of intel when teams change or people leave. But mass remote work has highlighted the scale of the problem and served as a catalyst to take a new approach.
Organizations now have an opportunity to hit the refresh button and tackle internal knowledge gaps with a new perspective and new tools.
So how can businesses bridge this gap whether their employees are in or out of the office?
What’s fuelling the knowledge gap?
For many organizations, the abrupt shift to remote working has led to new silos or revealed existing knowledge gaps. The process of finding the information needed to progress a project or problem-solve has been disrupted as much as the physical work environment.
Knowledge or expertise that was once only a desk or two away is harder to track down via a collaboration app. No longer can co-workers quickly brainstorm or exchange questions as they once did over a coffee in the office.
Although remote work has led to new knowledge silos, it has also magnified an existing challenge. Earlier this year, our Future of Work Report revealed that employees use just 38% of their knowledge and expertise at work.
The report also identified that 61 percent of workers were unable to find the information they needed to do their job effectively. And 57 percent of workers were unable to identify the right person to contact when they had a work-critical question.
Much of this information already exists in the collaboration tools companies rely on—like those that help enable remote work. But workers don't know where to look for it, or who to ask when they need expert advice. This then leads to duplicated work, time wasted, and, ultimately, frustrated employees and inefficient workforces.
Bridging pre and post-pandemic knowledge gaps requires a new approach to sourcing critical knowledge that is as simple and quick as chatting with a co-worker close by.
AI makes employee intelligence available in real-time
Wherever an employee is working from, be it in the office or at home, they need access to knowledge and expertise available in real-time, ideally at their fingertips. And business leaders need an accurate understanding of where knowledge gaps or inefficiencies lie across an organization to develop a data-driven approach to workforce planning.
The good news is that AI can augment employees’ intelligence, allowing it to be even more visible at a macro level.
In an enterprise where there may be tens of thousands of employees working across multiple countries and time zones, it’s challenging to pinpoint where specific expertise exists. Traditional methods of capturing employee skills at scale (e.g., interviews, performance reports, surveys, and feedback) are time-consuming, quickly outdated and do not scale.
But human-centric AI can be used to analyze the billions of public data points within workplace tools to identify where skills, knowledge and expertise exist within an organization. Having a holistic view of—and access to—all intel across a business means that expertise and knowledge can be shared faster and on a greater scale. Instant access to expert knowledge is essential to bust silos and bridge knowledge gaps.
By identifying who knows what within the company, businesses can also leverage AI to develop real-time skill profiles for every individual in the organization. These profiles include vital skills and knowledge that often go under the radar, even in a traditional office setting. AI can even identify experts in specialist subject areas, which businesses might not naturally associate with a specific individual.
Skill profiles provide the data-driven insights HR departments and business leaders need to make strategic workforce planning decisions now— and in a future where remote work will be the norm.
To successfully navigate a world of remote work, organizations need to identify, unlock and develop their greatest yet often intangible asset, human intelligence. Equally, each employee must be empowered to solve business-critical challenges quickly.
In remote working conditions, where teams and information can quickly become siloed, the value AI can deliver has never been as important or critical to business success.
If you are interested in supercharging innovation and productivity within your workforce, which eclipses the productivity gains achieved in the last few months of remote work, please contact one of our experts.