We are learning valuable lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit some countries, regions, and industries harder than others. From Wuhan to California and from the hospitality sector to translation and content creation, the coronavirus keeps changing the way we live, work and do business. 

The one thing the current health crisis can’t change is the importance of high quality, especially in translation. 

Though personal interpreters were forced to go online after the wave of lockdowns swept the tourist industry, translators and content creators adjusted to the new reality by working remotely (which they have been doing for a long time since the personal contact with clients isn’t the key part of their working process). 

Today, reliable translators become one of the crucial, if not essential, workers to relay the information to the world hungry for new data and facts. And in the pandemic's midst, this is exactly the reason the quality and accuracy of the translation are paramount. 

As the virus spread around the world, the media around the world began dishing out the relevant information, trying to outpace one another. If the translation was wrong or inaccurate, it could have had a significant impact on the way people handled the crisis. And not in a good way.  

All trades adapt in their own way. For those who simply cannot work from home (salespeople, booksellers, builders…), there is nothing else to do but take patience. For many others, it was the time to change habits, and do from home what they have done in the office until now.

But there is also a minority for whom working from home was already so commonplace that it makes little difference. PoliLingua is one of those ‘lucky’ translation service providers. For us, lockdowns will not change either our capacity or the quality of our work. In fact, it won't even disrupt our organization.

In truth, this is actually a general trait at most companies operating in translation. PoliLingua is no exception to this rule, and if we have one merit, it will be only to have been able to set up the positioning of high standards, tailor-made and the search for excellence without compromising this fundamental achievement of our profession.

New times, new content
The rise of the pandemic created tremendous shifts in demand. While the tourist and hospitality industries suffered a lot, online commerce and digital services received a major boost. 

Therefore, expert linguists in some fields today don’t translate much while others work harder than before. Among those who saw their content workflow - and translations - dwindled are airlines, restaurants, hotels, resorts, etc. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any content to translate at all, but as the number of clients went down considerably, the need to provide them with information followed suit.  

Lockdowns and other mitigation measures made more people spend more time online. They streamed movies, played games, bought online more often, and used other web-based services at a never-seen-before pace. 

So while it may seem that the demand for translation went down in the pandemic, the reality could never be far from expectations. There was definitely a shift in content demand, but there is a massive amount of information - often vital and urgent - is waiting to be translated to make millions of people’s lives easier and less stressful. 

COVID-19: Changes are always unexpected
Nothing is permanent except change. Never have these words been so true. The evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic shows us that nothing should ever be taken for granted. Entrepreneurs and employees must fight for their survival. It is time for responsibility, optimism, and proactivity. Of course, it is generally difficult to discern the opportunities that emerge from any crisis, even the worst, and yet, to each crisis there is an opportunity. And that includes the translation industry.

Public health crisis: behavioral changes towards more sustainable practices
The COVID-19 pandemic will bring about a sustainable change in behavior. Many companies will partly get used to the new situation and will change their commercial strategy during and after the COVID-19 pandemic: sales and promotion of their products through virtual fairs and exhibitions, meetings by videoconference, and maintaining contacts with customers and partners through new technologies. There may be a reduction in business travel. We may understand that the necessary reduction in travel also has positive effects on our health, productivity, and the environment.

Are translation agencies ready for a new lockdown?

Compensate for social and physical distancing through written and translated communication
A ‘real’ appointment has a fundamental value that contact by videoconference, however essential, does not have. This is why faced with the drastic social distancing imposed, translation, transcreation, and writing have their role to play. Intercultural translations are becoming authentic business cards and tokens of trust that have an impact on corporate communication and the transmission of information on products and services.

Clients and human translation services
Neural machine translation is here to stay, but the future of the translation industry is at a higher level. The added value of professional translations lies in an exceptional combination of digital competence and human expertise. In the age of confinement, of imposed physical and social distance, never before has the translation industry symbolized so much a bridge, a relational, interactive platform. Thanks to broad-spectrum interpersonal communication via translations, you will reach your target audience, your customers, and business partners internationally and inspire the necessary and indispensable trust.

Translators’ way is to work from home
In the world of translation, allowing translators to work from home is so natural that it would most likely have to be justified to do otherwise if one wanted. And it is true that there are several practical reasons behind it.

First, many translators are freelancers. This is a consequence of the flexibility required by the coverage of different languages and, sometimes, different areas of specialization. Even when you have a commitment to quality, and are therefore necessarily more selective, you need to count on a large number of translators. But yet, translators want to maintain certain freedom of action that justifies the use of freelance status. Thus, they are not ‘prisoners’ if translations dry up at their preferred agency.

Next comes the question of the nationality of the translators. Many are in fact foreigners, and may, as happens regularly, live in another country. In cases like these, knowing how to work at a distance increases the number of excellent linguists available to the agency in each of the languages it practices.

In addition, at PoliLingua, the translators are often experts in other fields, some of whom are still active practitioners in their specialty. For them, having to work at the agency would force them to choose. For us, it would be the loss of many qualified translators.

Some translators put their expertise at the service of several activities (translation, consulting, expertise...), and therefore can no longer be physically present daily.

Finally, there is the cultural issue: with time, many translators have become very attached to this specificity of the profession.

For translation agencies, telecommuting is, therefore, part of the way of life. It is this coincidence that allows us, in the exceptional situation we are in, to implement a very well-functioning organization, although work is done 100% remotely.

Is the translation industry affected by the pandemic?
Yes, of course. To claim that conditions have not changed would be an exaggeration. But for all the agencies that have their organization in place, and given the already gained habit of working remotely, most translation companies should be able to operate and produce smoothly during the crisis. Whatever the duration of the confinement, PoliLingua will take your orders and carry them out. We will remain available to discuss and advise you and will bring you our expertise so that your work can continue in these hard times.

Are translation agencies ready for a new lockdown?