I’ve become sort of a student of remote working because for years now. A special area of interest is the changes (both good and bad) in dynamics and project management that sometimes occur when a remote technical writer joins the team.
While this post speaks more about remote technical writing, you may find that you’ve bumped up against one or more of these things while working as a remote writer:
1. Microsoft Office is your frenemy
While some accuse me of being a Microsoft Office fanboy, Microsoft Office is all over in my local marketplace, so I’ve had to make it work to get my job done.
As a remote writer, you may have to contend with file corruptions, template issues and various document format and versioning issues all on your own.
A couple of document versions put together with bad habits may mean your remote writing project becomes more of a font fondling exercise in (re)formatting the document.
My advice is to do your best to own all facets of the document you are writing including the template and document management.
2. Offsite shouldn’t be out of mind
Technical writing projects usually lowest on the project manager’s list of priorities but still rank as a line item on a project schedule. It’s important to keep your writing project from falling off the project manager’s radar.
You can do this by actively participating in team status calls; making your presence known through IM sessions, and doing what you can so you and your writing project(s) achieve project milestones and get the attention and resources they need to complete successfully.
3. Remote writer equals project manager
Whether you are an employee, contractor or freelancer working remotely, project management is part of your responsibilities whether explicitly or not. Too often, writing projects can be ignored, and you have to implement your project management and communications strategy. Then again, if your experience has been anything like mine, you’ve found that there are a lot of managers who don’t understand what it takes to deliver a writing project. If you find yourself strapped with a manager like this, expect an education exercise at best and at worst keep a paper trail of your communications with management.
What lessons have you learned from remote writing projects? Share your tips and advice below.
Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.