How Internal Documentation Can Support Your Company’s Changing Landscape


How Internal Documentation Can Support Your Company’s Changing Landscape

June 16, 2021

A sound internal documentation strategy can help your company navigate a world changed by COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic turned the world as we knew it on its head, driving us apart, indoors, and into uncertainty. Businesses shuttered their downtown offices and rushed to move processes and meetings online. Meanwhile, workers scrambled to carve out workspaces in their homes. 

Now our global workforce is beginning to venture back out of their homes and into public spaces. Companies must grapple with a new question: What does our “new normal” look like, and how do we ease that transition for our employees?

Maybe your company is newly committed to remote work, embracing a hybrid model, or itching to get everyone back into an office space. No matter what approach your company takes, the most powerful tool businesses can leverage in times of change is accessible, quality internal documentation. 

Forbes weighed in about the importance of documentation to our new remote-working reality in their article Remote Working: How To Succeed Over The Long Term. “Documentation will not only aid in informing team members when they are working asynchronously; it will also create a public archive for future hires and organizational assessments.”

Obviously, we’re not entirely unbiased here. Let’s take a look at how content strategy can solve some of the common problems during times of change.

Access to Internal Knowledge Saves Time and Money

In the olden days when people could sit in the same conference rooms, workers could access organizational knowledge by simply stopping by a coworker’s desk. 

Now, we can’t always rely on casual interactions to access information. Remote workers can’t walk to the office across the hall to chat with the IT department. We can’t easily demonstrate company processes or tools in hybrid or fully-remote companies. To transition smoothly into our new remote-working reality, employees need easy, on-demand access to information for common tools, processes, and policies. 

Additionally, the people with answers tend to be the most senior and highest-paid on any team. Those leaders have a whole new set of questions to answer every day about ongoing process changes. Team leaders don’t have the time to answer all these questions from every corner, every day. 

Good internal documentation saves everyone time and the company money. Great documentation makes your teams more productive and can even increase your bottom line.

Good documentation saves everyone time and your company money. Great documentation makes your teams more productive and can even increase your bottom line.

Prioritize Common Processes and Problems 

To get the most bang for your buck, prioritize writing documentation that addresses your employees’ most common or time-consuming problems. 

Let’s take a look at a task all companies have to do: Onboarding new hires—now remotely. New hires need company information, from how to take a sick day to how to set up the software tools they need to do their jobs. In all likelihood, they’ll have the same questions their predecessors had before them. 

What do these and other processes look like for your employees? Do they have to pester their teammates to find answers to common questions? Do their teammates have to dig through emails to search for solutions to common problems? Do remote employees have the same experience as those in the office?

Gitlab, the world’s largest fully-remote company with 1,300 employees worldwide, emphasizes the importance of documentation in their Remote Work Playbook. “If you do not have a living, evolving company handbook, start one now. Embracing the notion of ‘if it’s not documented, it isn’t actionable,’ is key to detaching from colocated norms and positioning for success with all-remote [teams].”

By simply documenting these processes clearly in an easily accessible place, you can significantly reduce the amount of time and energy your employees spend on routine functions.

Let’s Talk Best Practices

Hybrid-work and remote-work models are here to stay, so it’s important to create a sustainable content strategy for your organization. Here are our tips for success.

  • Set up a system for informational access, and make sure employees know where and how to find information. Make sure all employees have equal access to it, whether they work remotely or in the office.
  • Establish guidelines around what should be documented and what shouldn’t. If you document everything and the kitchen sink, your employees won’t be able to find information or will be overwhelmed. Focus on providing clear, up-to-date documentation for your employees’ most common tasks, questions, or problems.
  • Make a plan for maintaining information. After all, access to incorrect information can be worse than no information at all. Create a regular schedule for reviewing existing content and making sure it’s organized and updated with the latest information. If necessary, identify a dedicated writer or team member to update the documentation on a regular basis.
  • Evangelize it. Documentation only helps if employees know how to use it and where to access it. Educate your employees about how to use your new documentation system to find information, and encourage teams to collaborate with writers to update the documentation regularly with valuable internal knowledge.

Good internal documentation saves your employees’ time, which saves your company money. But more importantly, good documentation also alleviates frustration, inefficiency, and uncertainty. That’s invaluable—for companies and for workers.

Help them, and your company, get back to business.

Have questions about how to improve your company’s content strategy and documentation? We’d love to hear from you.

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