I’ve never been so glad to see a year go to an end. 2020 was grueling for me. It was full of challenges and some key victories. At about the eight-month point of COVID-19, I had to admit to myself that I was feeling worn out. Christmas vacation has been refreshing with time spent on relaxation and personal projects.
Looking back into 2020, it took me a while to acknowledge everything that I gained in what was otherwise a bad, bad year. Top of the list is my career pivot. While I was happy as a technical writer for years, I stayed too long at the party when you get down to it. Deep down, I knew it for the last few years of my technical writer career. …
I lived a large part of my working life as a career technical writer. While my career has its share of ups and downs, I always felt at home doing the actual writing work. Over the years, clients, colleagues, and friends often encouraged me to seek other career opportunities. I finally pulled off a much-needed career pivot at the end of last summer.
Looking back over the six to twelve months prior to my career pivot, here are some key events in hindsight that played into my long-overdue career pivot
In late 2019, I got caught in a reduction in force (RIF) at work. I could see it coming, and I was prepared for it by bulking up on freelance work. I had another job offer during that time to take another writer position with yet another government contractor. While the pay raise was attractive, I felt a malingering sort of dread at the prospect of moving to another government contract. I turned down the job offer to take an internal transfer to another group in my employer at the time. …
I’ve been following a lot of the writing coming out about enterprise collaboration amidst the pandemic. Based on my experience, I think the post-COVID-19 collaboration stack could be something to behold. I can see market leaders swapping in and out, plus some transformative changes to collaborative culture for organizations concerned about such things.
Here’s an optimistic view of enterprise collaboration in a post-COVID working world:
The story goes that management clears away blockers for project teams. I’ve been on some project teams where the VPs and directors outnumbered the people doing the work. They became blockers. Such a top-heavy team composition brought communications and collaboration issues as managers contradicted each other and tried to run the ball in the direction they saw fit. …
Being stuck at home gave me more time to think about my goals for 2021 and start making some first steps at making those goals a reality. While I have a lot to be talking about looking back at 2020, the pandemic was challenging at times.
Here are a few of my goals for 2021:
One outcome of moving to the Kindle and the iPad for reading has been seeing the rundown of books I read during the year. 2020 wasn’t a good year for reading. I owe that to the pandemic. Summer — laying by the pool — is when I do a lot of my reading, it seems. COVID-19 shutdown my local pool for much of the summer. When the pool did open, it was too fraught with rules and restrictions to make it worthwhile. …
Writing a style guide from scratch is time-consuming and unnecessary when publishing a style guide online. A unified style guide includes updates and revisions to current style guide content, integrating third-party style guide content where it makes sense, and developing fresh style guide content to meet your organization’s brand and other requirements.
Here’s how to create a unified style guide for your team:
There’s value in studying others’ style guides because you can see the market’s influences and style trends. Over the years, I’ve amassed a small collection of style guides from past contracts and projects. …
I’ve been working from home off and on for much of my career. Pre-COVID, I would have said I like the option to work from either home or office, depending on things like what I had to do that day. I just took a job that is full-time remote, so that option is off the table.
Here are some ways I’m changing up my remote work routine:
As a technical writer and content strategist, I’ve become good with collaboration practices and the tools. While finishing my last job, I came to see how my perceptions of collaboration are changing. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Then again it might be all the time alone I’m getting during my current self-isolation because of COVID-19.
Here are some of my recent perceptions:
I just got through a job hunt in December and through the course of speaking with recruiters and hiring managers, I got a fresh perspective about the critical importance of relationship building for technical writers and other content creators in the IT industry.
Here are some of my favorite tips for writers to help build working relationships:
Sometimes a writer or content creator has to bring the answer to the subject matter expert. This can be hard for some SMEs and technical writers, but I’ve used it with great success in flattened hierarchies.
Too often, a busy SME is a primary writer for white papers, blog posts, presentations, and other marketing collateral. They lack the time and often the writing chops to kick off the documents. When they complete the document, only then do they send it to a technical writer to complete. …
I’ve come across nothing more hated in my IT career than the SharePoint site. Even as much as I consider myself pro SharePoint, I’m not an apologist for the platform. SharePoint discussions miss out on people in my experience leading to ongoing site issues and the knowledge worker baggage the platform carries.
Here’s how to show empathy as a SharePoint site owner:
A common theme I’ve found behind SharePoint problems over the years was that the SharePoint site owner wasn’t responsive when there were user problems with accessing documents on the site.
It’s ok to break things in SharePoint. Just fix SharePoint issues fast. Lingering SharePoint issues are a top excuse for users working around SharePoint. While you may not fix some problems yourself, you want to be on top of issues. Have your own SharePoint people follow the matter through escalation. …
After the holidays, many employees have new devices they’d like to use for work. This can become a test of your overall mobile strategy and policies, let alone your BYOD security. Your employees will be excited to use their new devices, but you don’t want to put your enterprise network at risk. What can you do to keep your enterprise safe without feeling like a Scrooge?
Here are some strategies to prepare for the influx of new devices:
Keeping your corporate data safe during the post-holiday BYOD rush starts with a review of your enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform, mobility strategy and data governance well before the worries of year-end deadlines and holiday vacations take over. …