The translation industry is big business. Due to modern technology and a considerable shift towards globalization, the market for language services is expected to increase to over $56 billion by 2021. As organizations all over the world offer their services and products to multiple countries, the need for translation and localization services is enormous, creating many opportunities for these businesses to grow. Naturally, this has also accelerated the trend toward hiring remote employees.
Many industries have decentralized their organizations so that their teams are working from locations all over the world. Entire companies have become successful having no physical office space at all. But with this trend towards a remote workforce, how can a translation company create an environment where its core values remain consistent among so many cultures and individuals? This article will discuss some of the ways to accomplish this, whether your translation workers are across town or across the planet.
While we’re focusing on a translation company in order to bring the example to life, remember that these principles can be applied to any business that has remote workers, no matter which industry it’s in.
Defining Your Translation Company’s Values
All companies have values, whether they realize it or not. At the most basic level, the founders of a company instilled these values from the beginning, based upon their own goals and core beliefs. As a company grows, values often evolve and change to set that business apart from its competitors, or to accommodate different points of view. For a translation agency to keep these values front and center, they need to be formally articulated somehow. It does little good to have a set of values that nobody on the translation team knows about!
Establishing a cultural standard that meets the expectations and needs of your remote translation employees is a tremendous opportunity to build a strong company backbone. It will develop a code of conduct and ethics in a way that will help your flexible workforce to understand why specific guidelines are in place. It also ensures they know what is expected of them as well as what they can expect from your translation organization.
If your translation company doesn’t already have an official values statement in place, now is the time to implement one. And if you already have a well-articulated set of values that your organization follows, periodically revisiting them is good practice. Both scenarios should involve every person on your team, from your part-time translation staff and localization experts to the highest level of management. Ideally, crafting your company values could include a combination of questionnaires, online meetings, and brainstorming sessions. These can be accomplished through the use of various productivity or instant messaging tools already in place, or by adopting new ones that allow for regular channels of communication.
Establish Regular Check-ins With Your Translation Teams
Virtual and remote workers don’t have the opportunity to participate in face to face company meetings, so it’s crucial to help them feel included and visible within your organization in other ways. Whenever possible, invite your translation team to attend regular video conferencing meetings. Ensure that anyone participating remotely is checking in during these meetings and that any questions or concerns they have are addressed.
Another essential way to keep translation company values in the forefront is one-on-one communication between management and remote translation team members. These meetings should be regularly scheduled and informal, like two friends having coffee. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship with remote workers and hear their concerns, both personally and professionally. Phone calls, emails, and messaging apps are used regularly to relay information, but for solid relationship building to take place, the importance of video conferencing cannot be understated.
Maintaining Translation Company Values Over The Long Haul
To maintain company values over time, it is vital not to get lax and allow the distance of your remote translation team members to create a communication barrier. Maintaining these relationships will take effort, but people need to know they are an important part of your organization and that they are appreciated as individuals and for their role in promoting the company’s core values. Here are just a few of the many ways to accomplish this:
When a team member has exemplified company values, give them the praise and recognition they deserve with community-wide shout-outs and kudos for a job well done. And don’t underestimate the impact of a personal gift or thank you card sent by snail mail. Company swag, a birthday card, or just a personal thank you note from upper management is a thoughtful gesture that can make your remote translation employees feel like they are truly appreciated.
If resources allow, bringing all your translation and localization staff together for a yearly retreat is a great way to connect and bond with fellow team members. It can also be a time for major growth, collaboration, learning, and fun, and is a practical way to demonstrate and reemphasize company core values.
Another way to display your values front and center is through local sponsorship. If you have a remote team member who wants to do something charitable within their community, donation of your time and resources is a wonderful way to foster a spirit of collaboration. Your remote translation staff will not only feel important but will serve as ambassadors of your company values, no matter where on the planet they are located.
Louise Taylor is head of content at Tomedes, a translation agency with clients spread around the globe. Her remit includes everything from the promotion of linguistic diversity to covering translation industry news and events from around the world.