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I was reminded recently about how much the successful management of remote writing projects relies on common sense, communications, and teamwork. Looking back over previous part-time remote projects I’ve worked on the lack of one of those elements usually made for a lot more difficult of a project.

However, I’m the first to say that communications are a two way street between the remote writer and the mother ship.

Here are three common sense tips for a successful remote writing project:

  • Factor in time zones and people’s schedules. You might think working with offshore project members is the most difficult element with a remote writing project. Well, I am here to tell you that it can sometimes be somebody on the opposite coast getting it wrong. When you email somebody at 10 pm your time demanding an immediate response, it could be 1 AM their time. Allow for time upfront in the project planning to ensure that your project communications don’t fumble on such a simple step.
  • Remember not everybody is a mind reader. If either party is unfamiliar with remote working, I always recommend in the beginning to factor in some extra lead-time to buffer against simple misunderstandings and give both parties a chance to learn how to work with each other.
  • Make your edits and review comments self-standing. One of the more formative times in my technical communications career was freelancing as a computer book technical reviewer. Computer book publishing was and probably still is one of the few industries that gets remote workers especially those who are only doing it part-time. It was through this experience I learned how to make my edits and comments stand on their own. It is one thing to make comments on a document when a coworker can walk down to your cubicle with questions but it can be a completely different animal when other project team members have never met you in person. When working remotely, make the extra effort to make sure your edits, comments, and feedback are descriptive enough to stand on their own and other project team members can work through them with a minimum of questions back and forth.

It’s sometimes the simple things that can hobble a project so take the time upfront to build the working relationship and communications because either party can fumble.

An earlier version of this post appeared on my personal blog.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data.


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