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Don’t Let Company Culture Get Lost in Translation When Using Remote Workers

Freelance and remote working options are popular modern ways to work, especially in the translation industry. And they’re not going away anytime soon. If current trends in the growth of freelance working continue, 50.9 percent of the US population will be freelancing by 2027, according to a survey released by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. Some 57.3 million people were freelancing in the US in 2017, up from 53 million in 2014.


Freelancing and remote work certainly has its benefits. These include more control over schedules, finding the most qualified candidates without geographical restrictions, and reducing overheads by allowing employees to work from home. However, the uptick in remote working also poses some challenges. The biggest challenge is how to keep company culture cohesive with employees spread out around the world and hailing from different cultures. Below, we’ll cover how to navigate company culture in our new remote work economy, both generally and in the translation industry. You can also read this article for further information on communication between remote workers and companies.


How to Manage Company Culture with Remote Workers

Any company can work with remote workers, not just those in the translation industry. So here are some general tips to help you keep company culture alive when you employ remote workers, no matter your industry.


Inclusive video conferencing: One of the best ways to keep company culture alive is to use video conferencing, whether you work in the translation sector or any other industry. Video conferences mimic the types of meetings that would take place in a normal office. To make it inclusive for people across all cultures, you can use a few different methods of video conferencing. You can set up a web camera and screen to let remote workers virtually “sit in” on office meetings. If you have remote workers who speak other languages, you can have interpreters present to ensure that everyone is included. You might also use Skype Translator, which translates messages in real time, albeit with less impressive results than can be achieved by working with human translation professionals.


Team building communications: You can move beyond newsletters and meetings by allowing remote workers to connect in more personal ways. For instance, you might set up a blog system where employees can post their project goals and how they are progressing with meeting them. Or you might allow people to post personal news in a section of a company messenger system, like Slack. Ideas such as this help connect workers in real time and in personal ways, so they can feel more like they are part of traditional office culture. These ideas are easy to offer in multiple languages. Whether in the translation industry or another sector, feeling closer to your remote coworkers can increase collaboration and productivity.


Above we covered ideas that work within translation companies and outside of them. Below we’ll cover how to work with remote employees from a translation industry standpoint.


Company Culture in Global Translation

Working with remote people like freelance translators in a global translation environment carries its own challenges. Since these types of companies tend to work with people who speak all kinds of different languages, language barriers can make it harder to keep company culture alive. However, it can be done.


First and foremost is making sure that you translate your company communications into all of the first languages that your employees speak. Doing so will help you connect with workers in their native language and culture, which will help them feel more included. And by using company communication translations for newsletters, emails, and memos, you can curate the message more easily, so that nothing is lost in translation.


You also want to make sure your teams have access to software that makes professional translation services easier in any language. There are many open source programs and tools that help translators. These can store style guides and make use of translation glossaries or memories. Examples include terminology management tools or CAT tools. Google Docs is also a good way to exchange documents, edits, and messages.


Localization Companies as an Example of Building Company Culture

Localization companies can deliver translation services, but they also focus on broader aspects of localization, like changing the visual elements of a product to match local customs and expectations, and making sure that the product information takes cultural sensitivities into account. As such, these teams are often culturally and linguistically diverse. Localization can encompass a wider range of regions than translation alone. For instance, a project can be translated from German into French and then further regionalized for specific areas.


To bridge any language gaps that may pop up among teams of freelance translators, you should make sure there are interpreters present when needed, even if it’s over Skype or similar chat programs. Since many localization services handle complex cultural sensitivities, it’s important to not trust the process only to imperfect machine translation, like Google Translate – human translation professionals are the way forward!

Last modified: January 3, 2019

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