The COVID-19 pandemic is having widespread effects on almost all industries including the language industry. In times of crisis, especially smaller translation businesses turn out to be financially more vulnerable and according to the latest survey by the European Union Association of Translation Companies (EUATC) on the impact of COVID-19 on Europe’s language industry, they are the ones experiencing some of the worst negative impacts of this crisis.
Founded as a boutique language service provider with a remote working team of language professionals based in different cities and countries, Localex had to adapt to the “new-normal” variations in order to ensure business continuity and establish operational resilience. Here are some important steps that we took and some others that we intend to address as our next steps.
Health and security
We took care of our people first. Since we do not have a physical office, all we had to do was to make a contingency plan for quarantined team members. We planned what to do if one or more of our team members are quarantined and can no longer work for a while. We assured all the team members that we will use all our financial and human resources to support each other during the pandemic.
Since the business environment was unpredictable, we created a detailed business continuity plan and cash flow forecast to sustain ongoing operations and facilitate recovery once the crisis is over.
Born into and evolve with the digital
With a tech-savvy team born into the digital world, we have already been using video conferencing, cloud-based translation production and management systems, and other digital technologies in order to empower our daily (remote) work operations. This enabled greater flexibility in work during the pandemic, raising our team members’ safety and well-being.
Organizational agility with flat hierarchy and self-managing team members
Organizational agility was once desirable but recently it has become central to business survival and continuity. Thanks to our flat organization and self-managing team members, we made decisions quickly, acted fast, adapted in response to the tumultuous and rapidly changing market demands and collaborated in such a way that even the most complex projects were delivered swiftly and efficiently.
A good example of this is our remote conference interpreting service. Prior to the pandemic, interpretation consisted only of a small portion of the services that Localex offered to its clients. Given the context of the changing communication demands as a result of the outbreak, our team prioritized the promotion of remote interpretation services to our existing clients and leads. Our production team further improved the technical and technological skills of our interpreters while our business development team made the necessary business connections and designed a new service powered by state-of-the-art remote interpretation technologies. Using our existing knowledge and skills in the language industry, we rapidly pivoted the sales team to start promoting a new service that offered a solution to governmental and non-governmental organizations, enterprises, and hospitals.
Though it is difficult to know what will happen next, it is possible to draw on the lessons of the past few months and rethink our approaches to actively plan for different scenarios. We expect to work, as much as possible, on responding to the negative impacts of the current crisis on us, our team members, and our business while simultaneously building to thrive in a new reality that focuses more on agility, digitization, team interaction, and multi-stakeholder collaboration and cooperation.
Focus: Find ways to fight Covid-era loneliness
Even before COVID-19 struck, loneliness and isolation were major problems in business life, especially for the ones working as freelancers. Our internal survey among 70 freelance language professionals suggests that 80.1% of the survey participants feel social and professional isolation to some degree since their work in the digital world entails inconsistent work relationships without face-to-face interactions. There is a high risk that the pandemic might worsen the situation.
The feelings of intense isolation and disconnection triggered with a painful period of uncertainty and anxiety, and the asymmetric financial impacts of COVID-19 on smaller businesses and freelancers mean that increasing numbers of people are likely to feel social isolation, loneliness, vulnerability, and lack of social cohesion. This matters not only because loneliness takes a huge toll on physical health and emotional wellbeing, but also because lonely people are less motivated, committed, engaged and productive than those who are not. Therefore, for the sake of our health and wealth, coping with loneliness and social isolation will be at the centre of our efforts for a better work and social life at Localex.
Founded in Istanbul/Turkey and run by a group of translation professionals, Localex is a boutique language service company. With a technologically savvy in-house team, Localex offers translation and advanced language solutions in local and regional languages, including Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Azeri, Armenian, and Russian. Partnering with all sizes of organizations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, the team have an established domain knowledge in IT, Software, Marketing, Industrial Manufacturing, Legal, Life Sciences, Automotive, and e-Learning.