Using Evernote

How to Save Knowledge When Teammates Leave

You know the feeling: Someone on your team announces at the staff meeting that she’s leaving the company for a new job.

You’re happy for her. Really. But you’re also thinking about the extra work, interviews for a replacement, and general stress that’s about to come your way. And in a few months, you know you’ll soon find yourself at yet another farewell event as someone else moves on to new opportunities.

And there’s a deeper level of dread, too. Because while losing your work friends is tough, this constant turnover has an even bigger impact on how teams function.

Turning over teams

When enough people leave, it can suddenly feel like a brand new team. No one remembers what the company did for that campaign four years ago, because everyone who worked on it is long gone.

In today’s work environment, this type of turnover is becoming more and more frequent. It’s not uncommon for workers to put in a few years before moving on. And we’ve all read those articles about the ‘job hopping’ ways of millennials, suggesting that this trend will only intensify in the future. Add in a revolving door of contractors and freelancers, and the whole thing starts to get pretty messy.

Adding up lost work and time

There’s an old saying that ‘you can’t take it with you when you go.’ But we all know that departing employees take a considerable amount along with them as they head out the door—experience, previous work, culture. That’s because in today’s economy, people are the company. They bring the innovations and the ideas, they build the product and craft the marketing campaigns. So when they leave, it’s as if they’re taking a little slice of the business with them.

Between documents spread out on shared drives and files buried in personal desktops that get wiped when employees leave, the past work we need access to is scattered to the digital winds. (And that’s assuming the knowledge was ever written down in the first place.) We can try to quantify it—some estimate that we spend 2.5 hours a day searching for information at work—but it’s hard to capture just how much wasted time and duplicated work is caused by the struggle to preserve knowledge across teams and time.

Building a system that preserves knowledge

“Invest in people like they will stay forever. Build systems like they will leave tomorrow.”

So with this rate of turnover and loss of knowledge only set to increase in the future, what can teams do to build continuity as individuals come and go?

Carmen Sample, an entrepreneur in the restaurant and retail space (industries notorious for their high-turnover rates), has an interesting perspective: “Invest in people like they will stay forever. Build systems like they will leave tomorrow.”

Having the right systems and tools in place can help you bridge the gap when employees and teammates leave for new opportunities. And with the introduction of Spaces, Evernote Business is up to the job.

With Spaces as your information hub, you can ensure that no matter the team or project, knowledge won’t leave when employees do. Every team’s work stays (and stays searchable), so your best work is never lost.


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Here are five ways your team can use Spaces to make sure previous work is always at your fingertips:

1. Keep your work in a space.

That thing that only you know about the project you’re working on? It’s locked away in your head unless you write it down somewhere. Practice what you preach and be kind to your future self (and future colleagues) by making sure all the things you’re working on are saved and easily discoverable somewhere in a space. Move archived notebooks over and be sure to create spaces for new projects or teams. You can also integrate with Google Drive, Slack, and Salesforce to make sure you’re really capturing it all for posterity.

2. Build out some ground rules.

Agree as a team on how you’ll use Spaces, laying out a team ‘charter’ that will be clear to new teammates as well. For example, consider making as many spaces as possible viewable to the whole company, that way it will be even easier for anyone to see what you’re working on. Also make sure to create naming conventions and standards, such as beginning all marketing space names with ‘MAR-’ or relabeling a space as ‘Archive’ when a project is completed.

3. Search the Space Directory.

Your first stop when searching for past work should be your team’s Space Directory. It helps ensure that you can get to your team’s best work, whether it was done last week or last year. Tap into this collection of collective knowledge by searching for a term, such as ‘marketing campaign,’ and then join or request access to relevant spaces.

4. Expand and view at a glance.

When there’s lots of previous work to dig through, it can take some time to get at what you need. Now you can quickly glance through all the notebooks in a space, expanding to scroll through notes without having to individually click and search through each notebook.

5. Create onboarding and exit processes.

When onboarding new teammates, make sure to give them training on how to properly share their work and search for related information with Spaces. On the flip side, consider asking departing employees to organize and preserve their work before they go, moving it into spaces and setting permissions appropriately.

Ensuring you can easily tap into the efforts of past, present, and future employees means that your team will always be able to get to their best work—no matter when it was done or who did it.


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