Melissa here – your SwissGlobal Content Manager. I’m usually the one writing or asking the questions. Today, I’m the one sharing my own story and giving some insights into what life as a remote worker in the language industry looks like and how we embrace flexible ways of working at SwissGlobal.
I have been with SwissGlobal for nearly five years and have worked with many of my colleagues for even longer. What many of our partners and clients don’t know is that I’ve been a remote worker from the very beginning. In the ten years that I have lived outside of Switzerland, I have called New Zealand, South Africa and currently Portugal my home. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
From Swiss schooling to the school of life
Switzerland enjoys an excellent education system. It wasn’t always smooth sailing for me though. Having been a rather weak math and science student, I always felt that my peers and teachers were constantly picking on my weaknesses whilst not really acknowledging my strong subjects (I was often top of class in all language subjects, history, sports and arts). In hindsight, I can appreciate that they only meant well and wanted to prevent me from falling too far behind other students. Did I end up being a math genius though? Definitely not. Am I still counting with my fingers sometimes? Yes, yes I am. Does anyone care? I really don’t think so.
I only started thriving academically during my BA degree in International Communication in New Zealand. My professors there had a very different teaching approach that better suited my learning style, and I was passionate about the subject matter. But the biggest bonus was the culturally diverse campus I studied at: It was like a miniature United Nations that broadened my horizon immensely – both personally as well as professionally.
Remote work in the language industry – a perfect match
As a travel-loving polyglot, it was no surprise that I eventually ended up in the language industry. This sector has embraced a remote-friendly and decentralised way of working long before the pandemic. In a field that not only embraces but heavily relies on multilingual talent that is based in different time zones, freelance and remote work has been the norm for many years. It really is the perfect industry for anyone who loves exploring different places and cultures, whilst using their language and communication skills on a daily basis.
I believe this decentralised way of working combined with the use of technology is what kept our industry going strong in the past three years. Except from not being able to occasionally use co-working spaces or leaving the house whenever I want to, not much has changed in my work routine.
It feels good to be part of an industry that is not only dynamic but also resilient. Translators and other language professionals tend to be very open to change as our professions require constant training and that we embrace new technological solutions.
How being flexible and open to change has paid off
When I first started working remotely for SwissGlobal, most people didn’t really understand what I do and how it works. Particularly friends and family back in Switzerland were not yet familiar with the concept of flexible modes of work. I was then still living in Cape Town and supported SwissGlobal with sales, marketing and administration tasks when the company was not even one year old. A lot has happened since then. Most significantly: we`ve had all had to embrace major changes in the way we get work done. And suddenly, people finally had an “aha” moment and I no longer needed to explain myself for being a remote worker who was based in South Africa but works for a Swiss company (and basically works from a computer like everybody else – just in a different location).
If there is one positive thing we can take away from this pandemic, I believe it is that we have come to embrace new ways of doing things. Sometimes, being left with no other option can make you think of innovative solutions. Sure, working from home is not for everyone. But it’s nice to see that more people who prefer it and get added value out of it frequently do have the option now. Getting more out of your day by not having to commute, spending more time with your family and saving costs on transportation are just some of the benefits.
Your best skills to have for the future
As language professionals, we’re used to always being on our toes and embracing change. Some of us have vastly different career journeys and backgrounds, but our jobs demand a certain level of education and skillset. Whether it is writing and editing, interpreting, translating or project management. In recent years however, the importance of soft skills has grown immensely.
It is no longer just about academic skills, diplomas and experience, but about your personality traits and what you have to offer as a person.
Here are the first 5 of the top 15 skills of 2025 that employers are looking for:
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and learning strategies
- Complex problem-solving
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality and initiative
The time is now
Whether you’re already working in the language and localisation industry or looking to get your foot in the door: this is a great sector to be a part of. The nature of our work has proven to not only withstand challenging circumstances but to thrive and use change as a stepping stone and driving force in innovation.
If you’re interested in a career in Applied Linguistics, you can chat to our partners at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. More information about the different courses on offer from the School of Applied Linguistics is available here.