Remote Work in Localization in a Post-Pandemic World

 

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For most people 2020 has been a turning point in their lives. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and organizations have been struggling with the new reality and have seen significant work changes. Most of them knew no alternative and started to work fully remotely and, by the end of 2020, remote was the new normal. As vaccines started to roll out, many thought that these changes were temporary. However, in 2022 we are seeing that the rise in remote positions is expected to continue, together with the changes that this way of working entails.

Rise in remote positions

The COVID-19 crisis has switched the way people consume and, in turn, how companies do business. Although there was a shift to digital in previous years, it is true to say that the pandemic accelerated that process. As people were in lockdown, there was a sudden need for digitalization to keep the business going. Moreover, companies sought to implement new strategies to help their employees successfully adapt to working from home. Even though telecommuting is not a tendency that started to develop in 2020, and indeed many workers were already operating remotely before COVID-19, the world saw a dramatic rise in remote positions in every industry. In fact, in 2021, 41 % of the total U.S. workforce were fully remote, compared with the 17 % that worked from home at least five days a week before the pandemic, according to NorthOne. It is even estimated that by 2025, 70 % of the workforce will be remote workers. Regarding the industries that have higher expectations of increasing remote work, we can find marketing and advertising, information technology, art and design, media and publishing, among others, as Payscale reports.

 

 

Changes in translation and localization

After two years of pandemic, a great portion of the market now dedicates to digital services. This situation has a profound impact on the language service industries, who, in contrast with other businesses, have long been used to remote work. In addition to the obvious increase in demand for professional translators in the medical field, there has been a rise in the demand for translation and localization services in sectors such as entertainment (thanks to the growth of streaming platforms and the videogame market) and e-learning. Moreover, localization services in the information technology industry have become especially relevant, as companies that began locally are choosing to work globally. Another sector that has seen an increased number of opportunities is interpretation, thanks to the increments of video calls. Take the case of Zoom: when it started, it registered 200 million meeting minutes in its first year. With the pandemic, Zoom registered 3,3 trillion meeting minutes per year.

 

 

Nevertheless, as mentioned before, language service industries were already ahead in relation to working from home. This accounts for the fact that professionals of this industry are more likely to work remotely than workers in any other sector. Actually, even before the pandemic, 68.1 % of language service professionals worked remotely at least one day a week, surpassing the average for non-language service industries (with 43 %).

But, what happens inside the language industry? 

According to surveys, vendor managers, linguists and quality control specialists are more likely to work fully remote, in comparison to engineers or CEOs, being linguists the ones that work fully remote the most (68 %), closely followed by vendor managers (64 %).

Benefits of remote work

Despite the fact that telecommuting conditions rocketed in the past years because of the new situation, it seems that many jobs have permanently changed. This is related not only to the development of technology but also because people have experienced it and have seen its advantages. Here are some benefits that these work changes have brought about.

  • Flexibility. In many cases, remote allows workers some scope of flexibility as regards their schedules. In a study conducted by Buffer, 63 % of remote workers stated that companies promoted flexible working hours. As a result of this, people are able to adjust their working hours as they please, as long as the outcome is positive. Flexibility is also related to location independence. As in many cases workers only need their computer and internet connection to carry out their tasks, they can choose the most convenient setting they find. Moreover, a flexible workplace provides people the opportunity to work for national or international companies that are established in places different from where workers reside.
  • Productivity. Research has shown that workers are as productive (or even more) when working remotely as in on-site jobs. A recent survey by Mercer, showed that 94 % of employers reported that productivity was the same as or higher than before the pandemic (even with remote work).
  • Money savings. FlexJob estimates the average worker saves 4000 USD per year by telecommuting. Moreover, Global Analytics found in 2019 that employers could save up to 11 000 USD per half-time remote employee. 

 

 

Downsides of remote work
  • Home Office Costs. Setting up an office at home requires workers to have their own computer and internet connection that, in some cases, is not covered by companies. Moreover, as they lack employer’s control, they can be exposed to viruses or hacking. 
  • Distractions. Although for some working from home might be relaxing and peaceful, for others (especially those who live with kids or other family members) it may be a little bit more difficult. What is more, workers may struggle with establishing a routine. In contrast with on-site work, telecommuting, as said before, allows a wider range of flexibility. Nevertheless, people may feel the need to set specific times to carry out their activities.
  • Less Social Interaction. Thanks to the advance of technology and social media, people can be in contact with one another despite being apart. However, feelings of loneliness are one of the biggest struggles remote workers face nowadays.
Summing up

In recent years there have been several work changes because of the COVID-19 crisis. These changes are related to the adoption of remote work as a temporary solution to the pandemic. However, the benefits that it has provided to people have made companies, organizations and employers consider telecommuting not only as an option to adopt some days a week, but also as a permanent strategy that will continue to evolve in the future.

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