Remote working: Translation trailblazers

As the general population waits for the first Fortune 100 Company to declare itself office-free and the majority of the workforce dreamily thinks about the wonders of working in pajamas, translators around the world smile in the knowledge that they have been doing it for years. The remote, task-based translation industry developed side by side with the internet and found itself naturally progressing toward a home-based ecosystem. Those uniquely experienced translators have some lessons worth sharing with the wider economy as it continues along this telecommuting trend.

The average translator knows it’s necessary to translate in order to get paid and develops strategies to ensure the work gets done while trying to satisfy other human desires: to socialize, find meaning and to separate work life from home life.

The following are some strategies that have withstood the test of translation time:

Create a separate work environment that can be used exclusively for work and can be closed off during rest periods.

Take time to leave the house to focus on other needs.

Build in time to see family and friends.

Reach out to colleagues through events and calling.

Keep self-motivated and engaged through events and further training.

Create and stick to a routine, create time for meals and breaks.

Ensure you can reply quickly to your clients or coworkers to avoid disconnect.

Keep yourself focused on work by using tools that monitor time spent on social media and news.

Avoid working in bed in your pajamas (contrary to popular belief).

It was not long ago that the CEO of Yahoo! banned telecommuting, citing that those water cooler moments can create the innovation to drive a company. Whether you can strategize on company direction at your kitchen table or not remains open to debate, but perhaps it is worth consulting translators on the types of tasks that can be home based, and those that need a few more water cooler moments.

Personally, having grown our translation agency from bedroom to open plan office, the benefits are clear for teambuilding and company motivation. However, remote working for many tasks including translation still has huge benefits along with flexibility. As the world works out what does and does not work from home, we can learn from our mistakes and find solutions by asking those who have already made them.