It's a solo pursuit.
Writers are creative people. Even the most analytical writer spends a lot of time in his or her brain figuring out what to write, what to omit, how to say it best, etc. So the reality is that writing is a solo activity. And that means we need lots of solo time to produce great material. And honestly, offices can be a big distraction.
We gather information, then run with it.
Once we gather our information from SMEs or other resources, we don't need to interact with people much anymore. We only need to circle back when a question arises, a draft is ready for review, or a status update is required. Most of what we do from that point on is just sit down and write. And this can be done anywhere.
I find that in most projects I spend about 10-15% of my time interacting with people. This might be through SME interviews, review cycles, or project status updates. I spent many a year in corporate America at my computer, in my cubicle, writing all day...and not interacting with anyone unless it was for some water cooler chat.
Did it really matter that I was sitting in the office? Not really. I could have easily done the same thing remotely and saved the company some overhead.
We need a creative environment.
Which brings me to point number three: We need an environment that allows us to be creative. For many of us creativity doesn't come within office walls, meeting interruptions, or standard 8-5 hours. Sometimes writers need the freedom to stop and do something else, then come back to the project. Sometimes writers work best in the middle of the night while the candle burns. It all depends on the individual.
For me, I need access to a window. I need an environment that isn't sterile or cubed in. I need to have my cat purring on my lap while I work, which is what she's doing now. I need the freedom to stop when my brain is tired, and start again when it's ready to go. Because sometimes you just run out of juice and need the freedom to stop so that you can come back and polish your work into something spectacular.
Does this mean I watch TV all day? No. I turn the TV on during lunch for about 10 minutes, and back to work I go. Working off-site just means I have the flexibility to work in a way that allows me to produce my best material. And my work environment isn't dictated by someone else who isn't in my brain.
You will find better employees if you are open to off-site work.
I think the most important thing to remember is that work ethic determines how hard you work, not physical location. So I would advise companies to focus more on finding candidates with a good work ethic rather than candidates who can be on-site all the time.
I sometimes see jobs posted indefinitely because the work location is a bit off the map, but the client insists the candidate be on-site. The result? They don't get any work done, the job sits open, and they lose out on good talent when someone like me could come in and knock it out.
So if you're ready to re-examine off-site consultants or employees, start looking! There is so much talent out there, ready to work hard and knock those projects out of the ballpark. And it's a great ROI for your business to hire the best person you can, regardless of their physical location.