Telecommuting for the Technical Writer

We all have days when we just don’t want to get out of bed. Unfortunately, many times those days are a Tuesday, or a Friday when we are supposed to be at work. One of the perks of working in IT, at least for me, is the occasional leeway I get to telecommute. Of course, I almost always plan my work from home ahead, because anyway I slice it, being at work among my colleagues is my preferred method of being present. But on days when I have a lot of reading to do, or when I want to put all my energies into a project, I choose to work from home. Working from home definitely has its perks, especially when I have a lot of writing or research to get through.

Perhaps the biggest perk of telecommuting is the fact that I do not have to drive from my bed to my standing desk (I happen to have one at home). This means that not only do I save approximately an hour of time I would normally spend in my car, but also I can make breakfast and brew coffee while I am already checking my email and organizing my computer for the day’s work. And while it may not seem like it would make much of a difference, I have so much more energy when I don’t have to spend time driving to work and back. Imagine how great life will be when teleportation is realized.

Another reason to work from home occasionally is that I can chose my distractions based on the way I work best. I am primarily a visual and a kinetic learner. Being a kinetic person means that I learn and work best when I am moving around. And while my co-workers don’t mind that I walk around the office a lot and dance at my desk, when I can do it at home I don’t need to be reserved, and I can go walking outside without anyone missing me. I sometimes put on loud music in the background, and it is much easier to make fresh food for lunch.

Probably the most useful thing I have learned about working in a business environment is to make sure that I am delivering content to my managers as often as possible. This means passing drafts over to my boss at least once a week, or more. When I work from home, I feel a stronger sense of the need for deliverables because it holds me accountable for working, when it is so easy to just nap instead. Every time I work from home, I try to create at least one deliverable, which sometimes makes me work a little harder than I would at the office.

Some technical writers telecommute 100% of the time, and that is ideal for some. For me it is ideal to telecommute about one day a week, or less. I rely on my colleagues for feedback and extra work when I have a lull resulting from waiting to get a draft back. There are definite advantages to telecommuting, even when my environment is fast-paced, like the data center I work in. Ultimately, the perks of working at home really smooth out the demands of a 9-5 in a way that makes being at the office 85% of the time worth it.