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We’ve ditched the office, have you?

Sergio Afonso, Founder and Managing Director of Absolute Translations on how a translations company have decided to invest 200k in automation for their new normal.

Sergio Afonso, Absolute Translations

Founder & Managing Director

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With lockdown restrictions hopefully easing, a hot topic amongst all business owners is the question, do we need an office? Working from home for over a year has created a new normal for employers and employees alike. Some companies have implemented the change better than others, and some staff have struggled to adapt to the home environment easily. Whilst the idea of having no commute is joy to people’s ears, are we downplaying the purpose and social necessity of what an office brings to our daily lives?

There is a clear divide between owners that feel strongly about maintaining an office space that holds business values, and others who wish to cut their costs and provide employee morale in other ways.

As an owner of translations company, I have seen the business excel during a tricky year and so have decided to hand the keys back to our office, invest £200k into automation and make staff 100% remote.

The change

Before the pandemic Absolute Translations employed 25 staff members in offices based in Hammersmith. Due to the increasing amount of stress from the pandemic, we decided to close our offices one week before the national government lockdown was announced. Up until this date, I have never had any staff members working from home, and from implementing new processes, to setting up specialist software, it was all very much from ground zero. As with anything as new as this, there were challenges and teething problems, however within a few days all staff members were up and running working from the comfort of their homes.

After taking a poll, I was very surprised to find out that 85% of my team prefer to work two days or less from the office. The flexibility of not having to travel to work seemed to be one of the main factors. During the pandemic, flexibility has allowed some team members to temporarily be working from home in other countries. This option gives the team members a bigger sense of freedom and with the trust I give them, our working relationships have improved. Working together in an office, growth opportunities can be overlooked. Working remotely, staff need to excel in different ways that show their initiative in certain situations.

One of the main challenges for any owner is the possibility of less productivity. However, with the use of technology, we have been able to implement basic monitoring systems, keeping everyone happy. In fact, we have found that productivity is higher with team members working from home, which was totally unexpected!

Businesses need to think about the bigger picture here; different doesn’t mean wrong.

Sergio Afonso

The now

We have invested over £200,000 in upgrading our software and systems, which allow for more flexibility. Online working environments tend to be faster with high-level security and better screen resolution for end users. This experience allows team members to work more efficiently and with less stress and IT issues, something we had a lot of in the offices! We also find that less time is wasted before and after meetings. Whilst it is important to open the room up to discussion, the focus of the meeting can sometimes be overlooked by distractions. Video calls are a great way to converse on important issues but stay focused on the subject.

Company morale is important. To have a successful business you need a happy team, and for your staff to feel at home in the workplace. Historically, we have enjoyed Christmas parties abroad, from places such as Copenhagen to Morocco. This was a great opportunity for teambuilding and provided me with the idea to execute this as a permanent fixture. International adventures are now at the forefront of the plans for the new working environment and we all couldn’t be more excited.

The budgets for office rent will be directed to taking staff members on work retreats in different European countries. This will boost team morale whilst showcasing our brand. Imagine one month visiting the team in Paris and the next Turkey; it’s much better than dreary daily commutes on a rainy morning. Staff have been more than happy to accept this change. There would be nothing worse than forcing people back into their pre-lockdown routine after they’ve found a breakthrough with a new normal.

The future

The world has changed, and we truly believe that it will never go back to exactly how it was before. We can either labour the fact of the inevitable or push forward and innovate. Technology, customer demands, and working environments are changing so fast that if you blink, you may miss it. Businesses need to think about the bigger picture here; different doesn’t mean wrong.

Guest Author

Sergio Afonso, Absolute Translations

Founder & Managing Director ,

About

Sergio Afonso is Founder and Managing Director of globally respected translation experts Absolute Translations. A leading translation company working with global brands, it is one of the fastest growing privately-owned UK translation companies.