In countless photos on social networks, the perfect picture of a freelancer usually looks like this: a beach, the sea, a yacht, and a small laptop sitting on tanned legs, next to an extravagant looking cocktail, replete with straw and umbrella. You look at this picture and imagine all the adorable and alluring prospects: you complete the entire job, which would normally take you the whole day spent in a stuffy office, in a few hours, and then go swimming!
Is this work efficiency, when not limited to a strictly defined time and space framework, really that high?
You can work, sunbathe and swim
Sunbathing and swimming in the sea are easy and pleasant activities, but a translator’s powerhouse—the laptop, won’t feel that good near the sea. Sand, which easily gets into any and all holes and openings, direct sunlight, splashes, especially with salty water—all these things will dramatically shorten the life of a laptop. Besides, it’s inconvenient to work under a scorching sun: legs fall asleep, and the brain, even if not overloaded with cocktails, is hardly configurable for work.
In any case, my editorial and managerial experience has shown that the general quality of texts, even from reliable translators, sent to me from such kinds of ‘rest’, were always worse than those born in a ‘stuffy office’.
You can work on a tablet
A tablet is a device designed primarily to consume information. A translator, on the other hand, needs to generate information, and therefore needs an appropriate device. You will not be able to work properly on a tablet! If you want to work remotely, you will need a laptop—quite a powerful laptop. Moreover, it should operate not on Linux or MacOS, but rather on a modern version of Windows. At the time of writing, this is Windows 10. For better or worse, 95% of translation tools, including the most popular CATs—Trados Studio, memoQ, Deja Vu, Transit, and many other auxiliary programs, work primarily in the Windows environment. With certain persistence, it is not impossible to run them on both Linux and MacOS, but who wants those torments? A translator needs Windows, however unfashionable it may sound. In addition, a laptop screen should be matte, as glossy ones both reflect lights, and give out bright, juicy colors; all of which are useless for translators, as well as provoking eye fatigue.
You can go online anywhere
Far from it!
Open and fast Wi-Fi is an oxymoron. In practice, when you connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network, in 99% of cases the signal is either weak or the connection is constantly breaking, or the connection speed is insufficient and web pages are loading for a long time, or not loading at all. The websites you need to access can sometimes be blocked, and some Wi-Fi networks have a limit on the amount of sent traffic. On top of this, some online translation systems explicitly limit the minimum connection speed. It will definitely not be that easy to work using an online CAT tool (e. g. Wordfast Anyway, GTT, or Memsource).
In many places, Internet connection is expensive, and even then a paid-for Wi-Fi service may be slow. Mobile Internet in most cases does not provide the necessary speed, and therefore it will be difficult to work with online systems using this service. In major European cities, the connection is likely to be very good. However, if you go to a village or wild beach away from ‘civilization’, you may need an extension cord or extend the antenna to an apple tree or a beach umbrella!
In addition to this, even though a laptop can operate without charging for several hours, you still have to charge it from time to time, so you constantly have to find a place for this.
So, this kind of remote working requires some preliminary preparations: consider how you will charge and connect your laptop to the Internet, and how much it will cost.
You can work lying on a beach mat
Try it on your own, and you’ll see it’s possible only for a few hours. Be ready to change your position every five minutes. One of the solutions is a folding portable chair. However, you still need a table. A chaise longue with a cocktail stand is not the best idea.
The author of this article once adapted an old baby stroller for exactly these purposes J. On the way to the beach and back, there was a child sitting in the stroller, and on the beach, while the child was with the mom, the dad wrote the article.
You can spend more time with your family
This is partially true. Of course, your family can be around physically, but at best it will just be a background presence; at worst you just cannot work. If you are with a small child, constantly striving to tear you from a laptop, or pour sand on it, it becomes impossible to work much. Your ‘work’ is limited to a battle for equipment preservation and constant irritation. There is a way to spend more time with your family—shorten the work hours.
In a few words
You can work remotely. In some cases, it really makes sense to travel with relatives, even communicating with them for short periods, and not the whole day. However, you have to get ready to work remotely: to arm with a laptop, portable modem, extra battery, and the most important thing—to distribute your time clearly, explaining to friends and relatives when you can communicate with them, and when you cannot.