Monday, 9:00 a.m.: Armed with my second cup of coffee, a pencil and a notebook, I am sitting in my office and compiling my usual to-do list for the coming week: I need to deliver a final copy and send an operating manual for translation; the weekly departmental meeting is on Wednesday, and I should prepare for that training course ... My telephone rings and distracts me from my thoughts. On the other end is my head of department:
“Olga, we urgently need someone for a new customer near Stuttgart. It’s about creating an operating manual for measuring equipment. The customer has an in-house editorial department, but they are currently short of people.”
During the conversation I put my to-do list for the week aside; instead, I write down the details for my contact, whom I will call to arrange a research and consultation appointment on the customer’s premises at short notice.
And so, on Wednesday morning, I am driving towards Stuttgart. Our departmental meeting will take place without me this time. The A8 is packed as always, but I am used to that. After all, I lived in this area for five years. It’s nice to be back in the old country again ...
Once I have arrived, the customer and I discuss over a cup of coffee how I can relieve their efforts so that they have the time and energy to deal with their normal order of business. For us as editors, such “emergency deployments” present new challenges every time, as there is no standardised process. The support we can offer our customers depends on the project in question. Over the course of the conversation, we decide that I will, starting the following week, trade my office in Kempen for a desk on site for the duration of the project. That way, we can roll up our sleeves and get through the work together.
Six weeks later, I am back in my car; this time on my way to my office in the Niederrhein region. Satisfied, I review the last couple of weeks. We were able to comply with submission deadlines, and the product can be delivered with its operating manual. It was an exciting field deployment: I gained insights into other editorial processes and workflows, and I found ideas and inspiration for my own work. This type of deployment always teaches me a lot and helps me as an editor.