Recently, I’ve been inspired by this article mentioned in ENLASO’s Twitter. ENLASO is a renowned localization and translation company, and the article in a local newspaper describes its organizational climate by way of a brief interview with Liesl Leary, Head of Corporate Marketing and Business Development. The main idea is how the company creates a win-win situation for itself and the employees by giving them more freedom in choosing when and where they work. The article inspired me because it resonates with my experience and vision we are pursuing at Velior. Here is a list of my comments to some of the ideas:
The employees are encouraged to work from home occasionally, so that they develop the appropriate skills and habits and can work remotely when necessary, e.g. during an emergency, to keep the company productive.
I have been selling this same idea to our team for years since working from home is really a win-win solution for everyone. Often, a team member needs to stay at home for a couple of hours or days, but can actually translate or manage projects during that time. This is when a remote connection to a work PC comes in handy. For instance, as a father, I have to be at home watching my son three or four times during the work week. By using a remote desktop, I can stay fully connected to whatever is happening at the office and make sure my internal clients don’t have to wait just because I’m not physically present.
The company is flexible about when employees take time off. It helps them to be innovative and generates loyalty.
Indeed, this kind of flexibility has a direct positive impact on creativity and sense of ownership. It’s hard to be innovative when you are straight-jacketed by rigid schedules, micromanagement, or endless meetings without clear outcomes. Less freedom of choice often translates into lower creativity or performance, in particular when translating marketing texts or editing translation. Just as ENLASO, we implement this common-sense principle by creating a climate and flexible rules to empower people to do their best instead of “go for this, go for that” type of delegation.
During slow times, ENLASO lets employees take very liberal vacations, so that the company can scale operations based on the workload.
We also tend to have a slow week or two during a year. I believe that given the project-based nature of our business, it’s a good idea to take time off not on specific days each week, but based on the current demand. Put simply, as a translation professional, you work when you have projects and you rest when you don’t. The most difficult thing about adopting this paradigm of thinking is that you commit to working also on weekends or after normal business hours. It’s quite against the traditional paradigm, but I think it’s becoming increasingly important in the current competitive landscape as clients demand faster turnarounds. The primary way to meet this demand is to increase your availability by adjusting your schedule to their needs. And it also makes sense financially since taking time off during a project and then sitting around at the office without any work to do is obviously a financial loss.
The employees can bring their pets to work. This forces them to go for a walk and be more productive later and also encourages conversations between those team members who don’t know each other very well.
This is another point that resonates with me deeply. Translators work mainly in front of a computer which results in repetitive stress to various parts of the body and can lead to disease such as deteriorating eyesight or back/neck disorders. Taking a break—whether it’s a walk after lunch or a workout—can make a huge difference in terms of preventing disease. And by making you feel refreshed both physically and emotionally, a short break indeed helps to boost productivity.
85% of ENLASO’s staff has been there for over three years. It’s a great result for a translation agency of ENLASO’s size. For Velior which is much smaller, it’s even 100 percent. Similar experience at two different levels suggests that empowering translation workforce clearly pays off.