The pandemic has hit businesses in various ways. One thing that most have in common is that they had to adjust to a remote working environment. And while the post-pandemic world could, in theory, support an in-office working environment, it looks like companies and employees are keen to maintain at least some remote work infrastructure. Data by Global Workplace Analytics show that 80% of employees would like to work remotely multiple days per week and that even among managers and executives, the fear and prejudice regarding remote staff is slowly dissolving.1
That being said, managing remote workers, especially a multilingual team, comes with its unique set of challenges. It invites us to rethink what it means to manage, to communicate, and to be productive. So, what would an ideal digital workspace look like? And how can a multilingual frame be introduced within it?
Set Up An Effective Remote Framework
At Laoret, we work with in-office and remote co-workers alike. Since many of these coworkers are native, in-country linguists, our team is also incredibly diverse in terms of culture and language. How can such a team be managed effectively? Well, first things first! Before you can implement a sustainable multilingual internal communication strategy, you will need a solid foundation to build it on. The following steps illustrate a few keyways in which you can organize your international teams and connect them in the most efficient way possible.
Create A Digital And Collaborate Environment: How We Do It
Since we have linguists, engineers, project managers, marketing experts, and writers working with us from all over the globe, we have had to make sure to centralize our communication channels. Here are some of the most common digital tools that businesses, including us here at Laoret, use:
- Slack for internal communications with specialized groups and departments created internally. While only some teams partake in the following tools, everyone is on Slack. It allows for communications to be targeted between individuals and groups, but it also supports community channels where the entire team can connect.
- Trello to manage specific tasks related to the development team and technical writing in connection with our internally developed software and tools.
- Jira for the communications of tasks between the marketing team and WordPress Developer.
- Google Drive for everything content related including social media and content calendars, digital marketing strategies, and all written content.
- Google Meet and Zoom for meetings and evaluations.
- For our translation and localization projects specifically, we leverage our internally developed Translation Management System and CAT Tool.
Some of these tools will work really well for you and might suit your goals and team better than others. Make sure you do your research and when in doubt, just try some out until you have identified the best ones for you.
Yes, Some Communications Should Be Multilingual, But Also Agree On A Common Language!
Considering the complexity of our working environment, we have adopted English as our common language. This will not be the best solution for all communications (more on that later!), but it is good to choose a common language everyone should be proficient enough in to streamline everyday communications and tasks.
That being said, multilingualism is something we effectively leverage when needed, and what’s more, it is a more desirable trait on the job market as well. A report by New American Economy shows that bilingual or multilingual talent has a competitive edge in the current remote working culture.
While a common language should be adopted in order to keep communications simple, it is important to accept feedback from your staff as well. You are in charge of building a primary structure to boost efficiency, but allow for this structure to be a living, changing organism and improve as time goes on.
Don’t Forget To Nurture A Sense Of Community And Company Culture
Nurturing a sense of community within a remote team may sound like a difficult task. But much like we had to learn to find our connections and sense of community in the digital realm during lockdown, it should be built for any remote working situation as well. We won’t deny that it is harder to achieve this when not physically in the same room, or even on the same continent! But it is still possible.
We mentioned Google Meet and Zoom as our video conference and meeting tools, but it shouldn’t all be used for business. Arrange for community calls that are more casual and informal in nature and just have a chat, play video games, or anything else you’d enjoy doing together. The frequency of such calls will depend on you and of course, also your coworkers living in various time zones. Some companies, if they have the resources, even arrange for annual company retreats.
Next to community calls, you can also create a separate channel in your preferred communication & chat tool, such as the above-mentioned Slack, where anything (as long as it is not work-related!) can be discussed. Of course, it is up to the management team to manage these communications effectively and allow for the ideal work-relaxation balance to be created.
How Translation And Localization Can Boost Multilingual Communications
Of course, we can’t talk about internal communications without saying a few words about how effective translation and localization can support a healthy and inclusive remote working environment. Yes, your company culture will ideally be built on a common language and not every chat message will need translating, but different communication types serve different purposes.
What Types Of Communication Should Be Localized And How?
Let’s suppose you’re managing a large, multicultural company with different languages and cultures making up your team. While multiculturalism itself can be an excellent business asset, certain global corporate values or those related to a healthy work culture, important messages and information, and so on, will still need to be communicated and implemented in a uniform way. These materials can include:
- Contracts and HR documents that will need to be understood word for word to avoid any communication gaps or even legal consequences. This is why highly accurate legal and specialized translations will be required for this content type.
- Official documents and all types of visual materials can also benefit from Desktop Publishing (DTP) Experts. DTP confirms that the translated document is fitted with the exact layout as the source text. It also ensures that languages that take a different structure, such as RTL Languages (Arabic, Hebrew, etc.), are fitted into the desired format perfectly.
- Newsletters and company updates can include some more personal messaging and specific language on a more personal level. In fact, newsletters are often used to connect with your staff and even to share happy announcements. That is why localization strategies with a focus on linguistic as well as cultural adaptation can be very beneficial here.
- Presentations, videos, and infographics combine content as well as visual features. If applicable, these visual features might need to be revised in terms of color usage or characters. This is a lot more important if you are introducing your content to your overseas staff, so only apply this strategy if the features may be considered offensive or confusing in different cultures. For videos, either subtitle translation or multilingual voice-over should be marked high on your localization priority services!
- Internal chat logs and communication for staff training and orientation. It is possible that old communication materials should be used as reference material and internal training. Since these logs can be quite extensive, a service called Machine Translation (MT) or even Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE), can be very beneficial. By way of example, have a look at how we accurately translated a chat log with an unfamiliar script using MT!
- eLearning materials and corporate training should also be localized in order to make international staff members feel welcome and well-informed about company policies, standards, and job-specific information. Note that the translation of eLearning materials especially may need to have voice-over, images, and interactive features localized, where you will benefit most from the support of an LSP since they can provide experts in each of these fields.
You may think, Isn’t this more important for external communications and marketing? Remote, multilingual remote employees require that extra bit of investment in building trust and connecting the individuals into a team. Offering certain materials in their native language with appropriate care to detail makes them feel appreciated and heard. On the other hand, poorly translated materials could give a far more negative impression than keeping all communications in English.
An LSP Or A Centralized Localization Process? Which Way To Go?
So, if you see the benefits of translation and localization services as a powerful strategy for your remote teams, you may wonder “Should I get some experts in-house and set up a centralized localization department, or should I contract a Language Service Provider (LSP)? This will depend entirely on your setup, your goals, the size of your team, and the number of languages involved in the project. Since the ultimate goal is to strengthen internal communications and establish consistent messages across all languages and cultures, this decision should not be made lightly. Have a look at some of the key factors to consider when making the choice!
An LSP: Perks And Challenges
|Specialized translation tools can be put to use to cut costs for short and especially long-term projects.
|Not every LSP is fully transparent. With some of them, there may be hidden costs to consider. Make sure you select an LSP who makes transparency their policy!
|High-volume and technologically complex projects will be handled by experts in the field.They have a large pool of translators and the most suitable one will be connected to your project.
Translation standards are maintained through constant QA and a Translation, Editing, and Proofreading (TEP) Process used with every project.
|Prices can be steep for one-time or smaller projects. Consider what your goals are and if it is only one small, uncomplicated project or occasional ones but with no real system or strategy, a freelancer may be better.
A Centrally Led Localization Process: Pros And Cons
|The time you will need to brief translation providers can be reduced if you have an internal team available. You can build trust with local champions you incorporate into your team and who become part of the working culture and get to know you on a higher level.
|It becomes less manageable when more languages are involved. Freelancers won’t have access to the pro-tools used by LSPs. You will have to manage your own tools if you are looking to increase efficiency by the use of tools.
|You have control over the hiring process and can maintain direct contact with the translator. Through LSPs, you often talk to a project manager who mediates everything.
The costs can be cut significantly for smaller projects.
You can benefit from full transparency between yourself and your translator and build a relationship.
|The turnaround time will be higher as the projects grow more complex.
While translators used by LSPs are tested rigorously and you will always be assigned a translator cut out for the job, with a centralized translation department, it may take some trial and error to find the perfect translators for the job.
Pro Tip! Do you want to work with a centralized team, but you dont have the tools to take it to the next level? For these types of situations, we offer Localization Consultation and Training so that you will not have to break your work routine but can still benefit from an LSP’s technical authority.
Multilingual, remote teams can be a highly valuable asset to any company, but they will also need a unique managerial approach. An efficient digital framework will need to be set up, a common language will need to be agreed upon, and a sense of community will need to be nurtured. Part of nurturing a sense of community is by showing you respect your workers’ language and culture and go the extra mile to communicate with them in a personal and efficient way. This is where the translation and localization of certain materials come in. Here, make sure you apply a sound strategy and decide which materials warrant translation, which services will be applicable, and if you will benefit most from working with an LSP, or a centralized localization department.
At Laoret, we are committed to connecting the best linguist and localization engineers to each project. Our native, in-country experts are not only specialists in translating into your target language, but also have expertise in your industry. Need more information? Reach out to us! We remain available 24/7.
Check Out The Rest Of The Series
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