2020 has been a challenging and unpredictable year for all of us, not only as businesses but as individual human beings. In December 2019 when the outbreak of the Coronavirus hit Wuhan in China, the magnitude and severity of its impacts on our day-to-day lives as well as on our companies was unpredictable. Even now, as it continues to rage throughout the globe, it forces us as leaders of industry to constantly reevaluate our priorities in the management of our businesses.
At Tarjama, we took 2020 as a chance for reinvention and growth. Amidst the darkness of the pandemic, our business continued to shine, racking up coveted accolades and recognition in our field, recruiting new talent into our fold while also remaining profitable. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t difficult, quite the contrary.
Now as 2021 kicks off, it is worthwhile to share how we managed to overcome the long and tedious battle that was 2020. In the face of adversity, we didn’t just survive- we thrived. We approached the pandemic with open minds, viewing it not only as a challenge but as an inflection point in our journey towards unparalleled levels of success.
Here are some of the key lessons we learned here at Tarjama:
1. Be open to challenging everything
If there’s one thing that we’re taking away from this year is that nothing is set in stone. The pandemic has shown us that situations change, and plans can come tumbling down in the blink of an eye.
Although we already knew that running a successful business requires agility, COVID-19 truly put that notion to the test. When it broke out and the implications of its spread dawned on us, we had to go back to the drawing board and re-strategize to find our footing in the “new normal”.
The future of the workplace is moving towards agile working. We’re witnessing a lot of companies challenging the conventional way business operates. For example, Careem recently adopted a permanent work-from-home model for its entire workforce to accommodate to the future of work.
At Tarjama, we were also quick to respond – adapting our entire workforce across several locations to working remotely. For our management team, this meant that we had to hold several meetings a week to align, assess, and re-adjust accordingly. The mark of a successful business is its ability to adapt to its changing environment.
2. The time to invest in technology is now.
A successful business must be centered around smart and meaningful work. Companies that are investing in technology and automation are able to allow their employees to spend their time on more meaningful work.
Surely automation will take some jobs away, but it will also create new jobs that never existed before. A report by the World Economic Forum published in October 2020 expects that automation will eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025, but will also create 97 million new jobs, meaning an overall growth of 12 million jobs.
At Tarjama, we took the decision to heavily invest in further developing our technology portfolio in 2020 (Machine Translation, T-Portal, CleverSo TMS, and more). How we saw it is that automation and machines are here to help us produce results that are faster with higher quality and fewer errors.
If you hadn’t already invested in digital tools for your business, the pandemic may have forced you to do so on short notice. Consider that a step in the right direction because remote work and automation are the future of business. As you and your employees get used to working digitally, you will enjoy faster turnaround time for tasks, increased output, and lowered costs in the long run.
3. Stay close to your team and products.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a CEO of a company is juggling the needs of clients, investors and employees simultaneously, while also supervising the development of new products and services. The key here is to stay close to your team and pay attention to their feedback and concerns while adapting accordingly. Without our team’s input and dedication, we wouldn’t have experienced as much growth throughout the past few years.
In response to COVID-19, we have been encouraging open vertical communication that allows us to stay on top of the issues that affect them in their line of duty. We also advocate for open discussion on mental health and wellness in the workplace to foster a conducive and progressive work environment.
Our supervisors also worked closely with their teams to ensure that our product delivery remained topnotch throughout the year. As a growing business, we take a hands-on approach to honing and perfecting the products we offer to our consumers.
4. Empower your team to reskill.
The future of the workforce is around reskilling. According to a report by McKinsey, 30-40% of workers in developed countries will need to significantly upgrade their skillset and/or change occupations due to everchanging technology and competitiveness by 2030.
The “Employee of the Future” will need to be equipped with high emotional intelligence, creative skills, cognitive abilities – in addition to technical skills.
For instance, at Tarjama, our Machine Translation technology allows us to produce instant initial translations for our clients, while we leave the creative elements to our human translators who are given the chance to spend time on more skillful, creative work. Utilizing technology has opened doors for our translators and linguists to learn new languages and acquire new skills such as copywriting and design.
5. Quantify your risks.
Running a business is already difficult enough without the fear of a life-threatening pandemic looming over your head. It is a delicate balancing act that requires a deep knowledge of the industry and informed decision making. Now that COVID-19 significantly upped the ante when it comes to investment decisions, it became imperative to assess all risks – no matter how seemingly minor.
Prioritizing the development of our cloud-based technologies helped us transition smoothly. Our linguists continued working using TMS, which provides a central platform for the end-to-end translation cycle. The whole team can manage projects, translate, edit, and finalize all translations on the TMS with easy in-platform communication and dashboards.
As businesses are unique, you have to identify the challenges that are peculiar to you and your team and find ways to mitigate them. For us, we had to ensure that the pandemic did not affect our continuity, so we were able to serve our clients seamlessly.
This year will go down in infamy as one of the most challenging periods in our lifetimes. The pandemic has shaken humanity to its core and brought about health, social and economic impacts that we’re still grappling with. But despite these challenges, companies can still manage to stay profitable if they’re quick to adapt their strategies, priorities and plans. As Tarjama ushers in the new year, we’re confident that bigger and better things lay ahead.