Reader Polls: ISO Row, Missing the Office, RSI on Zoom

Translation Market and Localization Industry Survey 162020

In an uncharacteristic move, Germany broke ranks this month and rejected the adoption of ISO 20771:2020, the new standard for legal translation. The standard covers translation, revision and review in the legal field, as well as best practices and the translation process.

Opponents to the new standard say that it causes confusion and that there is insufficient information on how it would work in conjunction with ISO 17100, the ISO standard for translation services, which applies to output from language service providers (LSPs), in-house translation units, and freelancers. Some also believe that it sets a bad precedent and opens the door for further unnecessary (and costly) sector-specific standard-making.

Experts came out in defense of the standard, describing it as a breakthrough that reflects the professionalization of the industry since it is the “first specialist ISO translation standard ever developed and also the first-ever developed for individual translators.” Adopting the standard is voluntary and could actually lead to extra pay for translators who meet it, advocates say, countering some of the objections raised by the standard’s naysayers.

We asked Slator readers whether they thought it made sense to introduce new standards to cover specific sectors of translation. An overwhelming majority of respondents (82%) said there should not be individual ISO standards for particular specialist fields, while just 18% said there should be.

Who’s Missing the Office?

Working from home is par-for-the-course for many in the language services profession — particularly freelance translators; but the coronavirus lockdowns have seen LSPs and others move normally office-based staff to remote working in the thousands.

Maintaining office space is a substantial fixed cost for LSPs, which will likely want to keep spending down post-coronavirus. And, with many providers also reporting little to no disruption in their delivery platforms as a result of widespread home-working, it raises the question of what will happen once staff can, in theory, return to their physical offices.

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We asked language professionals, who did not typically work from home before the pandemic, whether or not they were missing the office and what they would want to happen once the pandemic subsides.

50% of respondents said they would like to try a mix of working from home and office work, while a little more than 30% said they could work from home forever. Overall, only 20% seemed more keen to get back into the office: 5.7% said that a few more weeks of working from home were okay, while 13.6% said they missed the office.

Why Join Online Conferences?

Another coronavirus-led phenomenon: Conferences that would have otherwise taken place in person are now being moved online in 2020. In the language industry, various TMS providers and LSPs are running remote webinars and online conferences to keep in touch with their customers and freelancers, while industry bodies are also holding online meetings and conferences for their members.

We asked Slator readers what motivates them to take an hour or more out of their day to tune into an online conference or webinar.

Most people said their main reason for joining was to get inside industry information (63.6%). 

A smaller number said attending webinars allowed them to stay connected to peers (9.1%) or to see what others are working on (4.5%).

Relatively few saw webinars as an opportunity to take a break from work (2.3%), while the same proportion said it was fear of missing out that prompted them to participate in webinars.

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RSI in Zoom

With in-person conferences unable to take place due to lockdowns and social distancing, onsite conference interpreting work has come to a standstill. Conferences have moved online, prompting greater demand for remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) than before the pandemic.

The video conferencing space is one of the few beneficiaries of the coronavirus outbreak. Shares in Zoom have soared, new market entrant Houseparty had 50 million sign-ups in a single month, and Google is aggressively pursuing language integration in Google Meet.

Zoom, it seems, offers a viable option for live interpreting, at least for some buyers. The Presbytarian Church (USA) told Slator in a recent buyer interview that they were planning to run their General Assembly in June 2020 entirely on Zoom and would be using the platform’s live interpreting feature for language provision. We asked Slator readers whether they thought that Zoom was a serious contender in business-to-business RSI delivery.

Nearly 40% of respondents said that Zoom is already a serious contender in the space, while another fifth said it would be soon. A quarter said it might take a few years, while the remainder (15.5%) thought that Zoom would probably not give dedicated RSI platforms a run for their money.