Engaging Our Global Team Part I: White Elephant Gift Exchange

Multilingual Connections is dedicated to helping our clients create meaningful connections with their global audience. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about what this mission means for us as a company – and wondering how we can more effectively apply that mission internally.  

Engaging Our Remote Global Team

Once upon a time, our team was all based in the same office in Chicago. When we moved to Evanston, which was not as convenient for some, we started offering the option of working remotely one day a week. Aside from an easier commute, who doesn’t love a shower-optional weekday, or the ability to throw in a load of laundry between conference calls? Video chat and VOIP phones made this a near-seamless process, and we all embraced our work-from-home day. Despite the ease of collaboration that technology facilitates, however, we made sure to have all team members in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays for informal collaboration – the kind that happens when you overhear a conversation and can jump in to add value – and the team-building that happens as you chat in the kitchen while microwaving your lunch or discovering a year-old yogurt in the back of the fridge.

Fast-forward a few years, and we now have more people working permanently remote than local.  And they’re not just remote, a majority are globally remote: Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, South Korea, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. They represent a variety of languages, cultures, religions, time zones – and also workplace cultural expectations.  How do we make sure we understand their expectations and unique experiences? How do we engage our remote team and ensure they feel connected to our company and to each other? And how do we support their growth?

I think we’re doing a good job with this, but I’m always looking for things we can be doing better.  At this point, we have more questions than answers, but I wanted to take a few minutes to share one thing we’ve done two years in a row now – and in future posts, I’ll share some more general tips.  

Global White Elephant Gift Exchange

Engaging Our Global Team White with a Global Elephant Gift Exchange
We set up a “gift cam” so all remote staff can see the pile of wrapped gifts, as well as three other laptops around the area so they can see us and see the gift unwrapping process

We always enjoy an end-of-year lunch and gift exchange, and while our international folks can’t join in our food, they can join in the gifts! We have 25 full-time team members, and 14 of them are remote (3 in the US and the rest in other countries).

How do you do a global holiday gift exchange? Here’s what we did:

  1. Everyone based in the office buys a $10 gift
  2. The CEO and COO, who happen to be married, run to Home Goods on a Sunday evening and pick up a whole bunch of random gifts from the stocking stuffer section
  3. Their 13-year old son siphons off his favorite few (note: this step not required)
  4. The day of the party, each person in the company “picks” a number (our Operations Manager picked a number out of a bowl for them via individual Google Chat)
  5. We then set up a “gift cam” so all remote staff can see the pile of wrapped gifts, as well as three other laptops around the area so they can see us and see the gift unwrapping process
  6. The gift exchange works as it would in person, complete with laughter and stealing (most stolen gifts were “This Meeting Was Bullsh#t” socks and a turquoise fake leather domino set)
  7. You then spend a silly amount of money shipping cat mugs, MC Escher jigsaw puzzles and LED llama clip lights across the globe (but you use the opportunity to ship company swag and other items at the same time)

Including your remote team for an activity like this adds time and cost, but spending the time and a few extra dollars on gifts and international shipping to make your people feel like they’re a part of things? Totally worth it.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about some of our ongoing efforts to keep our global employees connected, and perhaps they can spark some ideas and conversations with others in similar situations.  And in the meantime, wishing you happy and meaningful connections in 2020!

Leading a Successful Global Team

June 29, 2020

This month we would like to introduce Mariela, a Team Lead at Multilingual Connections. Mariela joined our team as a Transcription Project Manager with many years of experience in multimedia and translation under her belt. And over the last six years, she has worked on hundreds of creative projects and has contributed immensely to our …

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Black Lives Matter: Amplifying Global Voices

June 12, 2020

Multilingual Connections is committed to being an inclusive environment and helping global voices be heard. We stand in solidarity with the Black community against systemic racism, oppression and police brutality, and we are committed to amplifying the voices of those who have long been unheard and working to affect positive change in our country and …

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“Translation is a Combination of Variety, Novelty, and Challenge”

June 2, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, we work with hundreds of talented linguists across the globe who are experts at translation, transcription, subtitling, and more. How do we pair each project with the best linguist for the job? We take into consideration their native language, region, and area(s) of expertise to achieve the highest quality of linguistic accuracy …

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How to Record Virtual Calls for Transcription

May 21, 2020

As a result of the pandemic, many companies have moved their employees from office workspaces to working from home indefinitely. So, instead of hopping into a company conference room for a department meeting or a manager’s office for a one-on-one check-in, team members are now going virtual with their meetings and other workplace needs.

Building Language Quality at Multilingual Connections

May 11, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, all of our team members bring their perspective and experience to the process  – both professionally and personally. This month we would like to introduce Osvaldo de la Torre, a Language Quality Manager at Multilingual Connections. Osvaldo joined our team as a Spanish editor and has worked on hundreds of projects over …

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Becoming a Translator: More Freedom and Opportunity

May 6, 2020

Multilingual Connections works with hundreds of talented linguists across the globe who are experts at translation, transcription, subtitling, and more. To reward the linguists who go above and beyond, we recognize one “Linguist of the Month” based on their exceptional quality, reliability, and their general amazingness. 

Engaging Our Global Team Part 2: COVID Connections

April 30, 2020

With half our team based in the Chicago area and half global, engaging our remote team has always been top of mind. In late December of last year, we shared a blog about our white elephant gift exchange across eight countries as an example of how we’re working to keep everyone engaged, connected and having …

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Anti-Tips for Working from Home

April 15, 2020

Recently, tons of organizations have been sharing tips for working from home. But, as our team members know, even when we try our hardest to follow even the best advice, we’re still prone to making mistakes along the way. That’s why we put together a list of the best anti-tips for being productive while working …

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Elizabeth Dumitrescu: Leading Your Team Remotely

April 6, 2020

At Multilingual Connections, each team member brings their unique perspective and experience to the table  – both professionally and personally. This month we would like to introduce Elizabeth Dumitrescu, a Team Lead at Multilingual Connections. Liz joined the MLC team as a project manager and has worked on hundreds of accounts over the last 5 …

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Multilingual Connections Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary

March 24, 2020

EVANSTON, IL (March 24, 2020) – Multilingual Connections, a leading global language solutions company in the Chicago area that provides professional translation, transcription and multimedia localization services, announced its 15th anniversary. 

Our Clients

Your Success is Our Success

We succeed when we help you understand, engage and grow your audience – and accomplish your business goals.

Relationships, Not Just Transactions

Sometimes you’re going to want to pick up the phone with questions, schedule a video chat or meet in person, and we welcome it!

Let us be your trusted partner

We believe in building long-term partnerships and finding the right solutions for your needs. We value our clients as partners and appreciate the trust they place in us.

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Office Location

Multilingual Connections
847 Chicago Ave Ste 250
Evanston, IL 60202, USA

Tel: +1-877-292-5264
Tel: +1-773-292-5500
Email: contact@mlconnections.com

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