3 Useful Tips for a Business Interpreter in the Remote Office

The transition to remote business has not been an easy one, as COVID19 has kicked many people out of their offices. It’s especially impacted the field of interpretation, where live and instantaneous feedback are absolutely necessary. However, many experts are speculating that some convenient aspects of remote business are here to stay. Several tech companies like Twitter and Facebook have even announced that parts of their workforce will make the permanent switch to working remotely. The benefits of remote operation are starting to show themselves, so here are some helpful tips for business interpreters on how to navigate and stay ahead.

Preparation is Key for a Business Interpreter

While remote interpretation increases your opportunities and outreach as a business interpreter, you must also be prepared for the greater diversity in both client and content. “When I began working as a remote interpreter, I was accustomed to interpreting for the pool of Spanish-speakers in my area,” says Nicole Tavarez. “Once I began interpreting remotely, I was exposed to accents, slangs, and idioms that I was unfamiliar with.”

Remote interpreters are also exposed to a wider variety of content. One could be dealing with insurance claims, helping with 911 calls, and working as an interpreter for meetings--all in the same week. This constant variation may expose you to unfamiliar words and terms, and may even overstep the limits of your expertise. Interpreting is very different from professional translating, with stagnant words on a page. Prepare yourself for quick thinking and unfamiliarity.

When possible, meeting in advance can help to minimize the greater risk of miscommunication, as well as using available online resources and compiling a list of phrases that come up on the job.

Good Business Interpreters Use Body Language

As in any language, expressiveness is a great way to get a point across. Naturally, this is a big part of working as a business interpreter as well. However, much of this is lost over a computer screen, an absence felt by interpreters and clients alike. Only so much can be done in being aware of this as a corporate interpreter and trying to make up for it, but one surefire way to help is to minimize distractions and encourage focus. Make sure that you have a proper screen and background, and that your surroundings are private and quiet.

Interpreter Fatigue: The Enemy of Business Interpreters

Most of us discovered rather quickly that working remotely is its own kind of exhausting. This is especially true of interpreters, who can experience interpreter fatigue if overworked. Research has proven it to be a true phenomenon; according to recent studies, fatigue can occur in simultaneous interpretation after only 20 minutes on the job. This is why many government interpreters and others work in teams, switching roles and offering support in high-stakes jobs. However, operating remotely strips it down to you, one lonely business interpreter. This can make the work even more overwhelming, so it’s important to stay vigilant. Take advantage of your private space to take frequent breaks and stretch or meditate. Clearly, remote work is a big obstacle in operating as a business interpreter, but with tips like these it can be dealt with.

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Robert Sanborn

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