Remote collaboration, anyone?

by Bill Swallow on February 21, 2009 · 3 comments

in Content Strategy

There was a thread on TechWr-L this past week about hiring a remote employee. It seemed there was some disagreement about the success of such a venture. I personally have had much success in both being a remote teammate and working with/leading them. With technical writing, it can get tricky being a remote writer, but it’s not impossible to excel in your work as a remote player. By leveraging technology and changing the way you communicate with others, you can easily work remotely – even as an entire virtual team – successfully.

How has your experience been? Whether good or bad, what technologies have you tried leveraging to make it work? And, what behaviors did you have to change?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron Miller February 21, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I’ve been a freelance tech writer for 20 years and for the last 10 years I’ve done most of my work remotely. I may occasionally go in for training on the product I’m documenting, but for the most part phone meetings, IM and email provide enough avenues for communication. If we need to a demo, I’ve had clients use WebEx or a similar tool. With workers spread out all over the world, even within the same company, this type of remote collaboration is common place these days.

Ron Miller
by Ron Miller blog

Char James-Tanny February 21, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I’m pretty much always a remote collaborator and it works well for me. I’m pretty sure my clients are OK with it, too ;-) I make my deadlines, I make sure that I’m available during their business hours, and I’ve been known to forsake things that need to be done around here while making a deadline.

Heck, I co-wrote a book on virtual collaboration with two other people and we only ever worked remotely.

It seems to me that some folks have had bad experiences with one or two employees, and that taints their opinions. I once had someone tell me that they couldn’t let me work at home because she knew I’d be watching soap operas all day. (I’ve never watched a soap opera!)

If I could figure out how to set it up and keep work flowing in, I’d create a virtual collaborative company to be anyone’s outsourced tech pubs department. I know enough people who are currently looking for work…good people with lots of skills…that my team would be incredibly awesome. And people could point to us as an example of how virtual collaboration is successful. It’s the “keep work flowing in” part that is beyond me right now ;-)

Rhonda February 26, 2009 at 5:24 pm

We moved to the country 2 years ago so I *only* work remotely now. It’s not been an issue as I only work for companies who don’t have a problem with it ;-)

Some of the technologies I use:
* VPN/Remote Desktop or Citrix XenApp access to the client’s system
* Skype for long distance calls
* DimDim, Adobe Connect (or similar) for screen sharing (not often used)
* Instant Messaging for immediate Q&A

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