Writing off-site requires discipline and good communication. The advantages of working off-site help many writers produce their best work.
For professionals who are used to a traditional office environment, it may be hard to imagine how writers can work well remotely. There are many strategies, but it ultimately comes down to four key elements.
1. Benefits of Writing Off-Site
We also know that working remotely saves money and is better for the environment. Additionally, companies that offer remote work as a benefit attract a wider candidate pool when hiring talent. And finally, writers from Ernest Hemingway to Malcolm Gladwell have found their best inspiration working in the perfect cafe rather than the office. Writing off-site can produce great results. It starts with collecting data.
2. Collecting Data
Before writers can turn off distractions and put the proverbial pen to paper, they need to gather the source information to write about. This can take many forms:
- Subject matter expert (SME) notes and interviews
- Existing drafts
- Engineering descriptions
- Visual assets
- Document templates and branding style guides
- Competitors’ documentation
- On-site consultations
Skilled writers learn the art of collecting enough source data to build a compelling narrative, even about unfamiliar subjects. They predict what missing information would leave content gaps and ask the right people for what they need. They also recognize when too much information dilutes the message. Writers gather the data they need and then stay in touch as the project develops.
3. Real-Time Communication and Teleconferencing
Effective communication makes a tremendous difference when working off-site. Writers’ often use teleconferencing apps to ask questions of their clients and receive clear instructions. Tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Hangouts Chat, and numerous others make it easy to schedule meetings, share screens, and talk face to face. Teleconferencing is ideal for kickoff calls and major project milestones, but there are many other ways to keep in touch:
- Chat apps like Slack and Discord streamline real-time discussion on content or topics.
- Project management apps like AirTable and Monday.com can keep writers and managers on the same page.
- Cloud repositories like Google Drive, Citrix ShareFile, Office 365, and Dropbox address versioning issues.
These synchronous communication apps help projects run smoothly. However, there are times when asynchronous communication keeps projects moving while giving SMEs control over their schedules.
4. Asynchronous Communication
Great conversation doesn’t have to happen in real time. For example, email remains one of the most popular asynchronous communication platforms. Sometimes a writer in a different time zone has a question that’s important but not urgent. Email is great for that.
Some writers, like us at ProEdit, also use email for weekly status reports. These status reports explain the work accomplished each week and track the hours used. They also lay out goals for the coming week. In short, status reports are an effective way to keep everyone informed of progress.
When writers have questions about a particular document, one of the easiest workflows uses the commenting features in Word, InDesign, and Acrobat Reader. Comments and tracked changes allow SMEs and writers to review questions and suggestions on their schedule—in one or more sittings—without scheduling a meeting. As a result, clients save time and cost.
Lastly, scheduled revision cycles allow companies to review projects and request changes before receiving the final draft. This is one of the most important communication strategies for working off-site. It allows writers, editors, and instructional designers to be creative, while giving company stakeholders the power to influence and direct the final result.
How to Start Writing Off-Site
ProEdit writers use reliable technology and effective verbal skills to write well off-site. They know when and how to ask questions. They’re responsive to client feedback and adjust to their needs and know-how.
Tell us about your project. We can help you create a plan to see it through.