Translator – so you can work anywhere, right?

I was chatting to a new acquaintance the other day and we got on to the subject of my work as a translator. He said that being a translator must give me freedom. This is true, I said. I pretty much choose when to work and how much I want to work.

And you can choose where to work too, he said. You can spend a few hours in Starbucks translating. This seems to be a common misconception among people I talk to about translating. While it would be nice to settle into a comfortable chair at my local coffee shop and spend the morning working and sipping a cafe latte, I never actually do it.

The work I handle is confidential. I have signed NDA with my clients, and I take this confidentiality seriously. If I worked in a coffee shop, the files open on my computer could be seen. Public WI-FI is not secure. I would be constantly worried about the lack of privacy and information leakage. The risk is too great, so no, I told my acquaintance, the “digital nomad” work from anywhere life is not compatible with the work I actually do. I need to be in my office, which is accessible only to me, to do my work.

My writing business is a different story. I write graded readers for my own publishing house, so confidentiality is not so much of a concern. It doesn’t matter if someone looks over my shoulder an glimpses a few sentences of my latest thriller. But when I’m translating? That’s when I’m shut away in my office for a morning or afternoon. The downside is that I have to make my own coffee, but it’s more than worth it for the peace of mind it brings.

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