Lots of practising translators serve on committees, groups or teams, and often work remotely with colleagues. For example, most professional associations are run by volunteer teams and offer many opportunities for translators to work with fellow wordsmiths and get involved in running their institutions at the same time.
As a result, meetings via Skype or Gotomeeting.com are increasingly popular, even among us (traditionally technology-reticent) translators. They save money, travel and time away from work and family, but a downside to this can be a lack of team spirit – one of the benefits of volunteering for a committee role in the first place.
Céline Roque and her readers over at WebWorkerDaily have some great tips on creating a team culture in a teleworking environment. Her post and the follow-up comments are well worth a (re-)read if you find yourself organising meetings remotely. These are my favourite:
- Don’t hold group meetings for every important decision. Instead, talk to people individually before coming together as a group to summarise or moderate decisions.
- Give teams the freedom to find and develop their own processes.
- Encourage team members to work on projects they feel passionate about.
- Establish one or two communication norms from day one.
This last one in particular strikes a chord with me. A company I once worked at had a strict policy regarding the format of subject lines on all internal email. As a result, it was easy to quickly scan your email inbox, see precisely what kinds of events, actions and information it contained and prioritise accordingly.
This is something I’d like to see more groups and organisations implement. Of course, as per point two above, over-prescribing can be damaging to team spirit in itself and it’s always better to wait and see how things evolve naturally. However it’s usually a given that any group of organisers will generate a deluge of email, which isn’t very helpful when we’re all trying to achieve the holy grail of email zen (email filters can only do so much – believe me, I know).
Finally, information specialist Clare Aitken had some great tips for getting the most out of teleconferencing on a recent guest post at Ramblings of a Remote Worker. She included some tips on establishing communication norms around turn-taking, for example, which can be particularly tricky in a teleconference where we sometimes lack helpful visual clues.
All in all, it’s clear that with a little planning, there’s no reason why working in a remote team can’t be as uniting and as satisfying as working in a face-to-face one.
Photo credit: Team Spirit December 2006, Jiheffe’s photostream on Flickr.