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Shopify's Remote KM Tips

By Dana Tessier, Director of Knowledge Management at Shopify

Background

Quick and easy access to the information you need to do your job is always crucial, and it’s even more important in remote environments where you can’t quickly get up and ask your coworkers for help. 

Shopify Support  has been a remote and distributed team since 2014, and has used Guru since 2016. Using Guru with our remote Support teams helped us scale and maintain consistent, quality support for our customers. Our reliable and up-to-date knowledge management repository in Guru is critical to ensure our remote teams are set up for success. 

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when structuring knowledge for a remote team: 

Make it discoverable: Store your knowledge in a consistent place, and try to limit the number of places where knowledge is being stored. Make it easy for everyone to find what they are looking for when they need it by keeping it accessible and discoverable through both searching and browsing.

Pro tip: Make sure your content titles are clear and understandable, even by the person you hired yesterday. Establish consistent naming conventions and make them specific. 

Keep it trustworthy: If your teammates can find the knowledge they need but they don’t trust it, then you will not get the full value of your knowledge management activities. Keep your content up-to-date and relevant to build trust. The more knowledge champions you have in your organization, the easier this is. 

Build awareness: Encourage your team to own the knowledge management system, and let them know it’s there to make their jobs easier. Set your intention and your expectations with your team and consistently reinforce them. Did someone send out an email blast with important information? Add that to the knowledge base and reply with a link. Eventually people will send out the links in an email, and when that happens, celebrate! 

Default to storing knowledge: Log decisions and other important information that people need to do their jobs somewhere easily accessible and searchable. Oftentimes decisions are made during a meeting or in chats but not written down. To enable collaboration and speed up people’s ability to get their work done, ensure everyone has access to decisions and critical pieces of information and share them often. 

Keep it relevant: It’s tempting to share personal or fun information, especially to build connections in remote environments. Having fun in a remote environment is an important part of a remote strategy, but be mindful of where you’re doing it. Sharing fun stuff  in your knowledge repository can clog up the search and make it hard to find what you are looking for, and damage trust in the whole system. Instead, set up a watercooler Slack channel for people to share their personal content to create the same connections without getting in the way of the work that needs to be done. 

Talk about it: Ask for feedback on your knowledge management system, and work with the team to action it. Encourage your team to leave comments or questions on documents when they have questions so that the knowledge can be captured in the context of how it’s being used.