Having a Culture of Writing at Work

18th February 2022

Brie Wolfson, wrote a great article listing their favourite things about working at companies that have a culture of writing. I’m a big fan of writing (and sharing) at work, and I tended to agree with everything in the post.

My favourites on the list would be:

Raises the quality bar: When you open up your work to a broader audience, you naturally do more polishing before you share. When everyone is doing that work for each other, the average for the company goes way up!

Good ideas bubble up: If the ideas are compelling, they will spread. And it doesn’t necessarily matter who wrote it. I’ve seen documents written in a corner of an organization make their way all the way to the CEO and meaningfully influence top-level decisions.

Ditch the “roadshows”: Publish a document to get your ideas out there and it not only democratizes it, it saves time! Docs create a single destination/artifact for anyone around the org to reference and opine on when appropriate or required. I like to call this the ‘YO, FYI” approach. Draft your doc and blast it out with the simple message of ‘YO, FYI” to those that may want to know.

I’m someone who writes a lot at work. For many of the reasons that are pointed out in the above-mentioned list. But if I would come up with the main benefits that I see myself from writing a lot at work I’d say:

Increases chance of understanding - You can spend more time explaining something when writing it out, and the reader can read it at their own pace, and take their time to understand it fully.

Gives the opportunity for more people to gain knowledge - Sometimes when you’re on a call or in a meeting, knowledge stays within small groups of people. But by having a written record, it allows more people (if shared appropriately) to also read it. For example, maybe a new employee wanting to know more about a piece of work/functionality, or someone on the same team that wishes to gain a better perspective of a bigger piece of work.

Showcases your work and knowledge - This can be taken the wrong way, but by offering more detail on discussions, decisions, or any learned knowledge, you can both help others with the shared information, and showcase your work to others. Perhaps it helps your boss to see what you’re up to, and reassures them that you’re on track. Or possibly it shows hard work, and potential for promotion.

Information has a longer lifespan - Instead of staying within the confines of a conversation, information can live longer. And at the same time, it can be used as a living document that is constantly updated.

Saves time - Both as a method of sharing information to big groups of people, and to explain complex topics that may take a while to read and fully understand.

Anecdotally, I have noticed that at my work the people that write more, tend to have a better reputation, and from my perspective, seem to be better at their jobs.