Poll: Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:31
Oct 15, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?".

This poll was originally submitted by Meera Wadhera. View the poll results »


Teresa Borges
Local time: 14:31
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Definitely alone... Oct 15, 2012

... if you mean splitting work, which I hate. Though I like working alone, sometimes I miss the camaraderie of a "traditional" working environment (one is never content with what one has!). Be happy!


Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
English to Dutch
+ ...
I have worked as part of a team a couple of times... Oct 15, 2012

... and while I can see the merits, I also see the pitfalls. In theory, it is a sound form of quality assurance but it hinges on the personal integrity of all participants. Working as the translator in a team of translator/proofreader/reviewer, one isn't always in the best position to defend against "preferential proofreading" (making preferential changes with the hope to be asked to replace the translator), because if the proofreader and the reviewer agree on a change, no amount of arguing will convince a PM that there is nothing wrong with your translation or even that the proposed change is definitely wrong. Time consuming, not very productive and in the end it leaves a bitter taste over the whole thing, because either you are booted of the project or you have somebody booted of the project on your behalf (which isn't exactly a nice feeling).


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
Member (2006)
German to English
Alone Oct 15, 2012

as when working in a team (as freelancer) there are always peolpe that do not keep to the terminology / instructions, etc. and then there is always someone lookíng to blame someone else if something goes wrong.

No, I am responsible for myself and my own work.
This is naturally different if working as an employee at the office of a company, then working in a team is essential


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
French to English
Translation team? Oct 15, 2012

If this is to be read to mean as a team of translators, then it would depend. I've done quite a bit of team translating. Sometimes it has been hell, sometimes it has been fun. When there is a competent leader giving clear instructions, then it all goes swimmingly. When there is not, then the whole set up is much more risky, of course. It can be very fragile indeed, but it can also work well. In the latter configuration, if our names are going to be made known, and the set up fragile or badly organized, I get very twitchy! I've been quite lucky, or rather, twitchy before accepting this type of work. I work with fellow translator's in whom I trust.

Apart from that, then yes, I do quite a lot of team work when working on lengthy projects. (Read this now to account for a much wider meaning of team, not translation team, but an inter and multidisciplinary team). Each has a clearly defined role and areas of responsibility. We all help each other out with terminology, understanding and interpretation. The whole project is much more coherent that way. Indeed, that is the type of work I enjoy most. Each is there as he/she has recognized and valued skills. We trust the other members to discuss, debate and think through to find solutions. It goes way beyond terminology and towards greater understanding of the whole. People I work with in this way work to signed orders, pay on time, say what they do and do what they say. They also speak up when there is a hitch.

A life ethos and a working ethos too!

[Edited at 2012-10-15 11:00 GMT]

Any team that works though is the sum of its individual parts. Translating requires concentration and that means being able to isolate oneself to get on with it. Much of what I consider teamwork involves my sitting in my office at home, alone, eyes glued to the computer screen, concentration full on. With on-going projects, I am definitely part of a team, am consulted on a regular basis and can consult others for opinions too. I am the only linguist, the others have other technical skills (mathematicians, engineers,). It is pooling those skills, working as a team, that we all work together to produce a coherent set of documents at the end of the day. The only people I consistently and increasingly have a hard time with are those who work in communication. Sorry for the well-organised among them; they do exist. However, of the various types of professionals I work with, they are collectively badly-organised last-minute purveyors of unfinished documents who never pay on time. That cannot be said, collectively, of other types of client I have.

[Edited at 2012-10-16 06:09 GMT]


Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:31
Hebrew to English
Alone - isn't that why many of us choose to freelance? Oct 15, 2012

One of my pet peeves is the modern overriding importance placed on "teamwork". So much so, that it's pretty ubiquitous to see "great teamplayer" or words to that effect under the "skills" section of many a CV/resume. It's pretty much standard nowadays that you'll have to chuck it in somewhere as it may be more conspicuous by its absence.

I think the ability to work solo, going it alone, is equally important.

After all,.... L'enfer, c'est les autres / Hell is other people (Jean-Paul Sartre)

[Edited at 2012-10-15 11:49 GMT]


Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:31
Italian to Russian
+ ...
imho Oct 15, 2012

In the first fifteen (15) years of professional work, the teamwork shouldn't be the question of choice, but the mandatory requirement.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends Oct 15, 2012

In general, I prefer working alone at my own pace and not having to depend on others, or take orders/follow instructions which I might find restrictive or otherwise cumbersome.
However, I do have a reciprocal agreement with a "team" of colleagues who help out and revise/check/proof things for me in UK and USA English or Spanish when necessary, although not on every text I translate.

Hell is indeed other people (it's one of my favourite catchphrases, I use it all the time) - so any emails I get saying "we are putting a team together for a large project" usually get binned immediately.

[Edited at 2012-10-15 12:48 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
Member (2007)
+ ...
Isn't that why many of us choose to freelance? Oct 15, 2012

Ty Kendall wrote:
One of my pet peeves is the modern overriding importance placed on "teamwork". So much so, that it's pretty ubiquitous to see "great teamplayer" or words to that effect under the "skills" section of many a CV/resume.

You won't find it on my CV, regardless of what that says about me. I'm not antisocial but I am certainly somewhat asocial. I don't need a constant group of friends or colleagues around me.

I have actually had zero experience of working in a translation team. I suppose it's because I always seem to get offered small(ish) jobs, or larger ones that I can do on my own within the timeframe required. Then again, team projects tend to need better IT knowledge than I have. At 56, I know my limitations in that area aren't going to be overcome.


Alison Sparks (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
French to English
+ ...
It depends Oct 15, 2012

Like neilmac, I find it useful sometimes to have someone check/proofread things, especially if I've got too close to the work and don't have time to sit back and reflect before doing the checking myself.

In general I much prefer working alone, and preferably without my cats trying to help with the typing - I do enough typos all by myselficon_biggrin.gif

I was never too keen on team sports either!!!


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:31
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I'm not a good team player... Oct 15, 2012

I moved around a lot as a child, so although I made friends easily enough, my parents moved on and I had to start again and again.

Sometimes people were kind, but sometimes I was clearly a misfit.
One learns to be independent.

My husband and I don't work well together, but we get along fine each doing a separate job and not hindering (or criticising) the other.
I love watching my son and daughter-in-law in the kitchen - they CAN work together!

But apparently some of us are just born to be freelancers.


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 07:31
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Mostly alone Oct 15, 2012

I had always worked alone but recently I have worked as a team with other translators (whom I respect I should add) and I liked it. Sometimes there were two documents split between the other two and I would proofread, sometimes there was more of a rush and we split the translation and then proofread each other's work. The big challenge was to maintain consistency and to coordinate the timeline, as we were all in different time zones.


Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:31
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
I prefer alone Oct 15, 2012

as it's just easier, but I still consider myself part of a team with the project managers, revisers, etc. Same goes if I'm a reviser.
I have worked on a few large projects that were divided between translators, and in one case I had to be a project manager. That one didn't work so well, because the agency I worked with was really disorganized and that project was a disaster from the getgo. I work pretty well with group translations but it's easier to work alone.


Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:31
Member (2009)
French to English
It depends Oct 15, 2012

I used to think that I preferred to work alone. Like many of the other comments above, my introverted nature is one reason why I enjoy translation. However, I have found that working on a well-organized team of professionals can be quite enjoyable. I think working with professionals really makes a difference, as does the fact that we are all still doing the actual *work* alone. The team aspect only comes into play after we have each done our batch of work. It is nice to have feedback and the camaraderie that comes from consulting with colleagues.


Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:31
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Born to be a freelancer. Oct 15, 2012

Christine Andersen wrote:

But apparently some of us are just born to be freelancers.

That's me!

My only regret is that it took me so long to get here.......

Oh the wasted years..........


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