How to use Knowledge Management to control a pandemic

Since March, I have been asked how can Knowledge Management help me (or my company) to control this or any pandemic. The answer I give them is to treat this pandemic like any other operation your company was in prior to the pandemic but your environment now has some more barriers to overcome before your clients can get to purchase your goods or services.

Part of this is to be aware of the environment we are all facing. Be aware of the trends and where the outbreaks are occurring. A good source of information is the John’s Hopkins University COVID-19 Tracker

Another source of information is the Center for Disease Control where they give advice on how to protect yourself and others from this disease. Also your state and local governments have policies in place to help prevent the spread.

So what are other ways Knowledge Management can help contribute to the larger fight against this particular problem. The work from home or remote work policies for companies need to be reviewed and updated to make sure both quality of service as well as the internal information the employees share can be accessed wherever they are located. Even after this pandemic has run its course, companies should practice how to operate outside of the office spaces. This is something the corporate world can learn from the military.

Having operated in Iraq, Kuwait, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and other areas in the world I can honestly say that the most meaningful take aways were those times we operated outside of the normal headquarters and worked in either a combined environment with the host nation or joint environment with the other services. We all learned from each other and this was also done in remote areas away from the cubicles.

Remote work and Knowledge Management

remote work

Over the past few weeks, a lot of companies across the globe have had to change their views on “telework” or “remote work” policies due to COVID-19, just to stay in business. After all of this, are we going to learn how to transition from the “9-5” work environment of office buildings and cubicles? Are there going to be more “remote work” jobs available in the workforce?

My experience working from home since the COVID-19 “shelter in place” orders started to roll through Texas has been both positive and negative. Here are some of my personal observations over the past month working from home.

Positive

Negative

Spending time with my wife and kids
Home Schooling Kids
Developing ways to organize my business live and home life
"Honey Do List"
Declutter my digital documents
House Upkeep
Finding more opportunities to create a business network
Lack of focus time
Look at my business from a consumer aspect
Not able to study in a quiet environment
Connecting with old friends from high school and college
Not able to go out with friends to catch up in person
Look at my capabilities away from the office
The internet at my house cannot support my business needs and my kids school needs at the same time

One of the major things I have learned from this experience is that is what service can I bring to the table to other companies that are going through the same thing. How are they communicating with their employees (Zoom and Microsoft Teams appear to have increased use quite a bit since this has started)? Not only talking to each other about work but the social interaction with each other is another reason why we work. One of my peers just hosted a videoconference about bringing the team together (completely optional) and just talk about whatever is on their mind (school, hobbies, family, etc.). This company truly cares about their employees well being and being able to do this has actually brought the team closer together.

How is business being done now? How are decisions being made (or are they)? Spending over 21 years in the military there were plenty of times where I had to work outside of the “office space” and still was responsible for reporting up to my leaders as well as coordinating my teams.

As an organization you have people and with that, you must plan on how to interact with them to be able to get your mission and vision accomplished in order to have the business survive. Developing a strategic level Knowledge Management plan for your company in a remote work situation. This can answer questions your employees may have when they are forced to work from home.

When developing this plan some things you want to keep in mind are connectivity, access, capabilities, benefits, and expectations.

Connectivity is not only is your business connected but are your employees able to connect to the company’s internal site to work. Access, is your internal portal, collaboration sites, communities of practice available while working from home? What are the capabilities your employees of working remotely (desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.). What benefits is the company willing to offer while working remotely? Finally, what are the expectations (not only from the CEO but the VPs, Division chiefs, Middle Managers, etc.) to ensure the work is being done