Facilitate Asynchronous Q&A

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Updated March 23, 2023

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Question and answer (Q&A) spaces are double-sided information marketplaces. These spaces build collective knowledge and community spirit, and can contribute to employee engagement.

Ensuring that there are people who can answer questions (and have time dedicated to answer them completely) is important for the success of this effort. Departmental leaders and team managers can help fill this role and eventually delegate it to other team members.

Collecting common questions often leads to the creation of lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that you can include in your handbook. This practice creates resources that cross-reference each other and make it easier for people to stay informed.

As far as communication channels to use, internal forums are built specifically for this purpose. Chats can also work, but they can be disruptive, and are often difficult to search.

A few specific options you might want to offer in a Q&A space include:

  • A “newbie” channel. This establishes a clear place for questions that may be assumed as obvious knowledge. New and tenured employees alike can feel comfortable asking questions they may not have asked otherwise, for fear of embarrassment.

  • A “Today I Learned (TIL)” channel. Employees can share something that they learned recently. This practice reinforces a culture of ongoing learning, and spreads information between team members in different locations or time zones. It also gives opportunities to workers from very different teams to interact.

#TIL, or Today I Learned, is a popular lingo for describing anything you just learned. Our Slack TIL channel pulls in everything tagged with an emoji. It aggregates handy tech tips, trivia-ready facts, and pop-culture references, so we can all keep up with the times.Kayli Kunkel, Marketing Director, Postlight*

cautionQ&A spaces are not intended to be used as places to resolve tactical questions that specific day-to-day work depends on, like where the wireframes for the new pages are or if the problem for customer #235 has been solved. Project-management and similar domain-specific task-tracking tools are better suited for this purpose.

Individual Responsibilities for Alignment

Handbooks and Q&A spaces are only valuable if individuals actively use them. Greater autonomy brings greater individual responsibility and the need for self-management, requiring workers to be proactive and work independently, staying aligned, informed, and unblocked.

Some recommendations that remote workers can adopt to make this easier include:

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