Informal knowledge: Covid-19 and the virtual water-cooler


One of the joys lost to Covid-19 times is shooting the breeze with colleagues.  It’s fun to share frivolous chatter about the company. You find out what’s going on; you glean information about how people feel. You’ll share much informal knowledge along with the coffee.  You already know that you need a virtual water-cooler.

Informal, tacit knowledge

These ‘water-cooler’ moments are vital to your knowledge of the organisation. That knowledge includes tacit information which is not accessible as a rule. Tacit information is unwritten and uncodified, it is the stuff that people know.  It flows through the organisation and oils the wheels.  It helps to get things done. For example, finding out what a competitor is up. That is something that helps you get your job done. What happens when your only water-cooler is the cold tap in your kitchen? And there’s no queue… Covid-19 has taught us that proximity is not permanent. It has disrupted this culture of informal communication and how. We must communicate via technology of whatever variety. It has also shown that paper contracts filed in a closed building are useless. We now confront a subtle but probable severe operational risk.


How to mitigate the risk of loss of knowledge flow

Soft solutions for contract lifecycle management are available. In the case of paper contracts, a shared online workspace allows work to continue as usual. Members of both parties can share the document, agree changes and check compliance. They can record comments, questions and answers within the online contract. This will help keep the ‘knowledge’ safe. It becomes the organisational memory, available to many, not the few. It forms an essential part of contract lifecycle management.


Are your contracts in good shape?

You think your contracts are in good shape and performing well. How will you check that? Remote use of an auditing app using the familiar technology of an iPad will let you do this. It provides directed questions so that the auditor can cover all necessary ground. It provides guidance for each question to support the auditor’s evaluation. Above all, it enables creation of a photographic record of evidence.

Virtual coffee mornings

Virtual coffee mornings are invaluable to the nurture of team spirit. Couple them with more formal briefing sessions to begin mixed information flows. Cement them with strong online solutions such as Contract Toolkit and Contract Audit. Now you can replace many of the informal flows of knowledge.

Contact us today for more information about how we could help you.

Author: Monica Augustine


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