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things to know about knowledge management

McKinsey Considers Post-Pandemic Workforce Options, which has Implications for Knowledge Management Systems

Management consulting firm McKinsey advises companies to carefully consider a range of potential impacts associated with how an organization structures its post-pandemic workforce.

In an article* from a recent issue of McKinsey Quarterly, entitled “Reimagining the Post-Pandemic Workforce”, the authors state that companies that embrace a “hybrid” model – some workers remote, others in the office, still others doing a combination of both – risk “letting two organizational cultures emerge, dominated by the in-person workers and managers who continue to benefit from the positive elements of co-location and in-person collaboration, while culture and social cohesion for the virtual workforce languish.”

According to McKinsey, each company has an opportunity “to fashion the hybrid virtual model that best fits your company, and let it give birth to a new shared culture for all your employees that provides stability, social cohesion, identity, and belonging.”

When determining which part of the hybrid virtual continuum is right for any given organization, the McKinsey authors list various factors a company might optimize for, such as real-estate cost, employee productivity, access to talent, and the employee experience. “All of these are worthy goals,” they write, “but in practice it can be difficult to optimize one without considering its effect on the others.”

Not on McKinsey’s list of factors, but top of mind for Northern Light, is how a company’s workforce accesses vital knowledge and information.  Especially with a remote workforce, hybrid or otherwise, an organization’s computerized knowledge management system plays an increasingly important role in ensuring decision-makers across the enterprise have the accurate information they need to do their jobs. The era of calling over the cubicle wall, walking down the hall, or bumping into a colleague at the coffee machine to ask a question is drawing to a close – or at least it’s becoming far less common. Yet subject matter experts are no less valuable to an organization, and the ability to tap their knowledge at a moment’s notice remains critical to effective decision-making.

But it’s not just the information in a subject matter expert’s head that hybrid organizations must make readily accessible. It’s all the market research and competitive intelligence from both internal and external sources that lives in reports and other documents across the enterprise. Well designed and constructed knowledge management systems must contain all of the above, fully integrated and searchable in one place, readily accessible to every employee. Anything less will create information silos, which can be extremely counterproductive.

One beauty of such a robust knowledge management system is that it supports equally well any organizational staffing model. So whatever combination of remote and on-site working a company ultimately embraces, it will have the knowledge infrastructure to ensure maximum productivity from its workforce. And the potential benefits of McKinsey’s “hybrid virtual model” – greater access to talent, increased productivity for individuals and small teams, lower costs, more individual flexibility, and improved employee experiences – won’t be compromised by incomplete, inconsistent access to the knowledge that fuels strategic insights and wise business decisions.

* McKinsey’s article is one of thousands of thought-provoking pieces contained in Northern Light’s Thought Leaders Content Collection, available to SinglePoint subscribers directly from Northern Light, and to individuals and companies through Amazon’s AWS Marketplace and the Amazon Data Exchange.

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