Breaking down the language barrier: working in an international team

With our product team split across the UK and Brazil, we share what we’ve learnt about working together effectively.

Anyone who’s worked in a team with a mix of technical and non-technical people will know that even when you speak the same tongue, you’re often not speaking the same language. Whether it’s developers vs designers, or data scientists vs sales, communication can be a challenge. We love a challenge at SuSy so we threw another into the mix: half our team speak Portuguese and the other half speak English.

After two years of working together, we’ve managed to find our groove.


Communicate often

Everyone knows the key to any successful team or relationship is communication. When there’s the risk of things getting lost in translation, it’s even more important to check in regularly. We have tech meetings twice a week and message every day to stay up-to-date in between.


Say it again

Recap on what you covered last meeting, or earlier in the meeting. Repeat, clarify and ask questions to check you’re all on the same page. It’s more frustrating to invest development time on something that was misunderstood than to simply spend a bit of extra time clarifying up-front.


Use visuals

A picture paints a thousand words. Every bug we report is accompanied by a marked-up screenshot or a screen recording.


Make an effort with the language

It’s an opportunity to learn something new. Duolingo is a great, free way to brush up on a language. You might not be fluent any time soon but it’s rewarding to start to recognise some of the words and it’s a way to feel closer to your team.


Live, translated captions

This one’s our secret sauce. We were astounded to discover translated captioning on Google Meet calls. It’s doubled the efficiency of our tech meetings and it’s allowed our team to connect over jokes and dodgy translations!