How to successfully conduct multilingual European Work Council meetings anywhere with remote interpreting
If you are part of a European organization in at least 2 EU countries with either 1,000 or more employees or 150 employees in each of 2 or more EU states, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Iceland you are likely to be familiar with European Work Council meetings, that involve at present around 19 million EU workers. In this blog you will learn how remote interpreting services can lead to the seamless handling of EWC and international HR meetings in any format.
Working with international business partners or within a global/EU based team entails the organization of international meetings. These are arranged not only to ensure open communication and an egalitarian sharing of information, or to prove everyone within a company or an institution is on the same page, but also to allow an equal opportunity for everyone to contribute to the favorable development of the business, as employees bring together the best functional expertise, local knowledge of the markets, and international diversity, with varied perspectives and work experiences.
Besides international meetings carried out in person, remotely, or in hybrid format, multinational companies located within the EU can request the establishment of a European Works Council (EWC) as a major step. According to the European Trade Union Institute, EWCs represent interests of employees of multinational companies before central management and involve a forum of national representatives elected by workers from EU countries (where these multinationals operate) that deal with workplace cross-border implications.
Established as a pragmatic response to globalization/Europeanization, European Works Councils were developed in the 1980s by means of informal contacts between workers’ representatives from various European countries to later cater for the information and consultation needs of both the workforce and company management. They are currently governed by two EU directives, respectively adopted in 1994 and later in 2009, and data from the ETUI database (January 2019) quoted by Eurofound show that a total of 992 EWCs are active.
Just as happens with international business meetings involving geographically dispersed work-forces, and as we recently saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, multinationals dealing with the EWC framework are also up against stiff challenges when it comes to dealing with meetings, with making the choice between hybrid, remote, or face-to-face format being one of them. But if on one hand EWC meetings generally took place in person until the pandemic changed our lives and in recent days we have gone back to the hybrid and physical presence formats, on the other hand, for those who decided to rely on Remote Interpreting Services, there has been no particular disruption, to such an extent that many companies have decided to keep meetings remote to avoid unnecessary traveling.
But the meeting format is certainly not the only issue to consider when arranging EWC meetings. From cultural differences to working around other obstacles, both the companies that rely on EWCs and their language partners have to work diligently to create an understanding between individuals and businesses in other countries that speak different languages and tackle the need to travel to different countries. Communication has to be crystal clear and fluid, otherwise information transmission and dialogue can rapidly deteriorate, misunderstandings can occur, and cooperation can regress into distrust.
Even for meetings that include people who are in the same room or speak the same language in separate locations, you need to pay attention to certain details that you might not otherwise normally consider. You should use suitable equipment, make sure technical hiccups won’t add additional impediments, and select the right specialists.
Multilingual webinar platforms and state-of-the-art remote interpreting tools have the power to:
- break language barriers,
- increase the engagement of participants,
- and enable efficient communication.
If simultaneous interpreting is necessary during your meeting, interpreters will be able to work remotely receiving audio in real time and delivering swift interpretation to participants. In similar environments, technology can make use of live captioning to facilitate accessibility for people with impaired hearing.
One of our customers, a renowned multinational company in the automotive sector, was looking for an LSP to arrange interpreting services for their EWC in Bratislava during the pandemic in Slovenian, Slovak, Czech, Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English, with a total requirement of 16 language experts working on the assignment. As traveling was not possible, RIT technology helped them conduct the meeting while complying with the desired quality standards.
And just as every company is a world in itself, every EWC is different too and will have its unique requirements. But it you don’t want to let time and distance get in the way of achieving your EWC objectives, CPSL will provide you with the right linguistic support for this type of meeting, whether it’s face-to-face, remote, or hybrid.
If you are responsible for a Works Council, are head of HR, or are in charge of the organization of EWC meetings in any capacity, contact us or request a demo to learn how to make them a success.
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