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Carefree works with the hospitality industry to gift its excess capacity so that unpaid carers can take a break.

Use this Guide if you are overwhelmed by the amount of documents stored in different places by your organisation. Use it if you are thinking about organising your internal documentation so it is easier and quicker for staff to find the right information.

Steps to successfully centralising internal knowledge and documentation with Notion

You need to know what knowledge you want to centralise and why you want to centralise it. This will help you be purposeful in your approach. For example, are there particular types of information staff struggle to access at particular times?

Carefree staff were overwhelmed by the amount of documents stored in different places. It made project management and delivery harder. They also wanted:

  • Somewhere they could capture and share their current thinking as it changed, like a whiteboard would in an office

  • Somewhere for new staff to see everything they needed to learn

  • A more visually engaging and active way to help the team focus on objectives and performance

  • To be able to quickly and easily amend processes and documentation

List the types of information held internally and where each is currently stored.

Screenshot of Carefree's use of Notion A screenshot from Carefree's Notion

Carefree had a lot of documents spread across different computers and cloud services such as Airtable, Google Drive and Miro. They first identified all the documents that they wanted to centralise within Notion. This became an audit and reorganisation of some of their storage structures.

Carefree also wanted to share their real-world office’s wall. This included whiteboards that showed their values, KPIs and delivery plans.

Several tools like Notion exist. They have lots of different names - productivity tools, knowledge management systems or simply workspaces. Choosing the right one for your organisation will depend on things you worked out in Step 1.

Explore 2-3 by watching their videos, exploring their examples and trying out their free versions. Then pick one to try out. You’ll be starting small so you can change your mind if it doesn’t work out.

Carefree chose to use Notion because:

  • Its workspace is customisable and collaborative

  • Its pages can act as a central repository. You can embed or link to information from other places such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Miro and Airtable.

  • Its pages can also be used to display information in the same ways as documents

  • It can act as a live log for project work

  • It has other functionality, for example as a task management tool, project management tool, database, wiki and more.

Carefree uses a ‘team’ subscription in Notion so that every member of staff can collaborate anywhere in their Notion workspace. This requires a monthly subscription to the Teams pricing tier.

Start with a set of index pages for the main types of information you want to share. For example you might have a Team page for everything to share with your team, and an Organisation page for everything that is organisation wide. Label them using words that your staff use.

Sometimes, it might be best to start with the tool’s built in templates. Then you can use Notion’s online documentation to learn how it works and adapt it to suit your needs.

Each page can also have a set of sub-pages. But start small. You don’t need a detailed or polished structure to start with. Have realistic expectations and be flexible.

Screenshot of Carefree's use of Notion Carefree's documentation homepage, made with Notion

Carefree made pages in Notion to act as index pages for links to all their documents. For example, they made a Team page that links to things like Meeting Notes and Training Resources. Their ‘Office Wall’ pages contains their values, KPIs and delivery plans

Carefree found it helpful to accept that things don't need to be perfect immediately and that starting small is the best strategy.

Add your different files, documents and information types to your sub-pages. You can add these as:

  • Direct links to an external source e.g. a OneDrive or Google Drive document

  • Embedded documents or other file types into a Notion sub-page so they can be viewed there

  • Information you’ve written or pasted directly into a Notion sub-page

Once they made their index pages, Carefree linked to existing local documents. This included Word and Powerpoint files and cloud documents such as those in Google Drive. Carefree found Notion’s built in templates useful as a starting point. Templates include Meeting Notes, Task Lists and Weekly Agendas.

Carefree found the initial setup easy, but it took time to gather all information across all index pages. As well as finding the information they needed to do two things:

"Spring clean" their documentation - getting rid of some
Reorganise some of their storage structures to make things easier to find.

Using a new tool can be intimidating. Ahead of the transition explain why you are making it. Be patient with your team members and allow them to transition at their own pace. Remember that people learn in different ways and at different speeds. Offer them 1-1 support alongside group briefing and induction sessions.

Carefree found that Notion felt centralised and multi- functional. It stopped them needing to introduce too many tools.

Carefree also uses Notion as a central place for new employees to get familiar with the charity and how it operates. They send new employees an invitation to the team before their first day so they can start learning before they start working.

Further information