Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a translation company based in Tel Aviv. Tomedes maintains offices in several countries and has built a system for managing members of their team who work in different locations. This makes Tomedes well-positioned and provides a unique insight into leading a remote workforce worldwide.
Tomedes was founded in 2007 in Tel Aviv as a translation company because there were gaps in the industry, and there was an exceptional opportunity to fill those gaps. Our focus is on helping companies trying to expand into other markets.
At that time, the internet became accessible in other parts of the world, so we created solutions to the translation industry problems centered around the internet.
Innovation with Tomedes
We created a platform where translators and language experts can share their skills with individuals and companies. That made things easier for clients looking for suitable translators to work on their projects.
We work mainly with companies that are trying to break into new markets. In many cases, these companies require support for translating documents and communications to match their target market.
We built a platform for translators from different countries to work on our projects. This means specialists who are native speakers of the target language can help our clients. As a translation company, this is the advantage that Tomedes has over competitors because they mainly work with a limited pool of translators.
Remote Workforce Beginnings
We set up our remote network of translators through the internet. Because of that, we saw that it was possible to have people based in different locations worldwide and still function and perform well. We decided to apply the same principle we used for our translators to our workforce.
We started hiring people in other countries to become part of our team in 2012. It wasn’t easy at first, but we soon found an excellent fit for our team, and we worked from there. We slowly expanded the number of remote workers that we have and expanded in other countries by having offices in the UK, the US, and the Philippines.
Remote Workforce Benefits
The setup that we have offers many benefits, but the main one is it allows us to find the best people to become part of our team. We’re no longer limited by geography when it comes to recruiting people. This means we have a deeper pool of talent when we’re recruiting.
Another significant benefit of having a remote workforce is good employee retention. Many employees now expect to have remote work as an option. Business owners know that employee attrition can be a real problem.
Another significant benefit for other companies is switching to having a remote workforce because of the lower overhead costs. One big-name company that has benefited from a remote work arrangement is American Express. The company claims to save $10 to $15 million each year because of its remote work policy.
Tomedes is still growing, but we know that with the size of our workforce working remotely, we are saving a lot of money.
Translation Company Insights
First of all, let be clear; a remote workforce setup is not perfect. It does have its disadvantages. This kind of setup presents issues that we would not encounter if we followed a more traditional arrangement.
That being said, the advantages offered by having a remote workforce outweighs the disadvantages. At least, that’s how we see things. As for the insights, there are a few which I think I can share with other business leaders out there.
Clear Communication Guidelines
The first and most important thing that a company has to settle when going for a remote workforce is to have clear communication guidelines. It’s very easy to let communication deteriorate when working with a team spread out all over the world. We recognized this early on, and that’s why we created a communications guideline that has to be followed by everyone.
The policy states the tool to be used for online communication and when employees are expected to be online. Expectations are also set as to when they should be online and how quickly they respond. By having these guidelines, everyone in the team knows what is expected from them regarding communications.
The first and most important thing that a company has to settle when going for a remote workforce is to have clear communication guidelines.
As a workforce leader, one of your primary responsibilities is delegating tasks and responsibilities to the right people. This responsibility becomes even more crucial when working with a remote workforce. Everyone in your crew must have clear ideas of their expectations in terms of tasks and responsibilities. This way, they can work independently without relying too much on you.
Another thing that we determined early on is that we need to set clear standards for productivity. It is more challenging to monitor the productivity and performance of remote workers because their superiors cannot see how they are doing in person. The solution is to have a clear set of standards for the productivity of each member of your team.
Each role will have its standards for productivity. Those involved with sales will have different standards from those with customer service. Those standards must be made available to everyone. Aside from the productivity standard, it should also be clear what the consequences of failing to meet those standards. All employees should be made aware of the standards that they must meet.
The members of your team that work remotely should be given access to the tools that will allow them to communicate with others in the group and perform their tasks. Remember, they will not have the same access to the tools as someone in the office. So, whatever an employee’s role is, you need to see that they can access the tools they need.
Be Extra Sensitive
Working with remote workers makes it difficult to assess how others are feeling. We have learned early on that remote workers might be feeling differently from what they are trying to show. This is why we have made a point out of being extra sensitive to the possible feelings of our workers.
We reassure our team members that it is okay to complain if they feel a problem with their tasks. Try to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and anticipate how they feel.
Remote Team Problems
As mentioned earlier, using a remote workforce has its challenges. We encountered those challenges early on, trying our best to remedy them. One apparent difficulty it poses is the lack of face time, whether with supervisors, managers, and colleagues. Because humans are social animals, face time is a means of getting that social connection.
Supervisors also use face-to-face interaction to check on the productivity of employees. With remote work, this is not possible.
Another major challenge posed by remote work is communication breakdowns caused by technology failure. Some places can have a poor internet connection, and having a team member can be problematic.
One more challenge that we noticed early on is that working at home can be very distracting. Not everyone has a home office or a separate area to work. Many things can cause distractions while working at home, and for some people, it doesn’t work.
But these issues have clear solutions to them. The lack of face time, for example, can be resolved by holding regular video meetings with the team. It’s not a complete replacement for face-to-face interactions, but it is a way to connect with other team members. It puts a face to the person that they are chatting with.
The communication issues posed by technical problems can be avoided by ensuring the people hired are appropriately equipped. Sometimes it will be worth it to invest in getting the equipment and connection to an employee, but ideally, they should have what it takes to work for your company.
Building a remote workforce requires time and a lot of resources, but it is worth it in the long run. It can save a lot of money and have a talented workforce simultaneously. That’s exactly what we went through when building our remote workforce.
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Overhead costs are low, and you have the potential to make significant profits. You have a broad target market, including legal, commercial, medical, technical editing, interpretation, and more. There is a growing demand for translators in our global community.