I’ve been using Atlassian Confluence for about a month now as part of a new technical writing contract. While I’ve been a wiki and collaboration platform proponent forever, the move from work at home to client site based technical writer got me thinking about my attitudes and stances around wikis and collaboration again.

Personal spaces on collaboration platforms are such unrealized opportunities. For example, Atlassian Confluence includes Personal Spaces, and Microsoft SharePoint 2013 includes MySite. There’s so much that individual contributors and teams can do with these personal spaces including:

1. Share team only and non-project materials

If your wiki is organized around product or services workspaces, there are still going to be a few use cases that slip through that organizational schema. A personal workspace is where users can share content and items that would only be of interest to their co-worker and not applicable to the project as a whole.

For example, a technical writer might want to capture any research they’ve done on a technical writing best practice and place it in their personal space. Likewise, a personal workspace can be an ideal place to post any internal job aids for applications the team uses.

2. Capture and share notes and supplementary materials

I’m on record for being a fan of collaborative note taking versus sticking somebody (usually the person who was out sick the day before or the technical writer) with taking meeting notes. A personal workspace is ideal for sharing notes after a meeting or presentation.

A personal space is also useful to share any camera shots of the whiteboard and any meeting recordings as well.

3. Embrace the personal space as a social hub

SharePoint positions MySite as a social hub (amongst other things) and even if your enterprise hasn’t fully embraced enterprise social tools, personal spaces on a collaboration platform can make attractive social hubs with just making a few extra steps to setup and use the space on a regular basis.

4. Test out new features and page designs

If your wiki or collaboration platform is underutilized, a personal space can be a great way to test new features and page design before you unleash them on the rest of the unsuspecting collaborators in your organization. In more polite terms, start using new features in a personal space (if feasible) and introduce them to new users on a small scale.

5. Establish and communicate your expertise internally

Not every enterprise is rolling out an enterprise social network (ESN) or should they. The personal space on a wiki or other collaboration platform can enable users to share their business and technology knowledge with their co-workers.

A personal workspace is also where you can keep up to date personal brand information including:

  • Link to your LinkedIn Profile
  • Link to your GitHub presence
  • Downloadable resume (for proposals)
  • Downloadable bio (for marketing materials)
  • Long and short bios for marketing purposes

A personal space for you, a personal space for me

When project team members establish a personal space on a collaboration platform, it adds yet another channel for collaboration and communications, that the whole team can use.

This post was originally published on willkelly.org in January 2015.

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.

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