Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Zbyněk Zelenka

Zbyněk Zelenka

13. 1. 2021

5 positives the current situation has brought

“Every cloud has a silver lining." That’s what our parents and grandparents used to say. In my opinion, there’s truth to the proverb.

Considering the flood of negative news all around us, I’d like to “even things out” a little. Yes, the situation isn’t good but like many times in the past, people and companies around the world have been able to cope with many difficulties and eventually emerged even stronger.

I admit that it’s difficult to find some positives in the current situation, in part due to the media, which prefer shocking and negative news to grab your attention. However, as the owner of a 30-year-old business, I feel it’s necessary to express myself and maybe shed new light on this.

So, can we find something good in the current “covid crisis”? After all, it only causes problems for everyone, even for our translation company. Some companies are already facing bankruptcy and evidence shows that this crisis is also far from over.

Despite this, I believe it’s good to change our point of view and mention some provable positives that have arisen due to the situation.

1. Expanded home office

Before the crisis, our translation agency carefully considered who we’d allow to work from home and under what conditions, the ‘whys and whens’. Our concerns related to security risks, especially in terms of software, trusting employees in terms of the conscientious performance of work tasks, mutual benefits for both parties, company costs for HW, SW and technical operations, etc.

Suddenly, last year, all these “problems” could be solved almost immediately. And it worked. Now, even though we can go to the office if we follow government guidance, quite a lot of space has become available. Many people have discovered the advantages and disadvantages of this and continue to work partly at home – and we fully support this mode of operation.

In the past, we were afraid that people wouldn’t work as hard when working from home for a long time. This has turned out to be completely untrue. I must say that I’m really proud of how our team has managed and continues to manage all these limitations to this day.

I’m sure that it’s exactly the same in other companies where it’s possible to work from home. People still do the same good work at home as they used to do in the office.

At the same time, I realize that in our profession, providing translation services, it’s easier to be positive. I do feel sorry for those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to work from home or to run their businesses. We all know who's been affected - travel agencies, airlines, restaurants, to name but a few.

Our translators, however, have been working from home all their lives, so their work practically hasn’t changed. That said, we’re all looking forward to seeing them again in person in the near future.

In my opinion, home office is a good thing. It saves staff's time and transport costs, therefore reduces the burden on the environment, etc.

2. We won’t take personal contact and "ordinary" things for granted any more

I have come to realize how important it is to meet in person and not just via screens. In the past, I was a translator and worked a lot from home. As I also did when I became a manager. My experience has taught me that it can be very stultifying and inefficient for some activities. You also start to become “allergic to people”. I'm therefore not at all surprised that some children are looking forward to going back to school again, to their friends and teachers.

In some cases, the lack of equipment, the age of the children, the need for both parents to work and the unavailability of grandparents to babysit have also posed problems.

Greater awareness of the need for social ties and personal contacts, both at work and elsewhere, has been a good thing. I have begun to value more the "ordinary" things that I suddenly lost.

I'm definitely not going to be the only one to say that as soon as the situation calms down and we start meeting normally again, the beer in my favourite beer garden will taste better than ever.

3. New ways of communicating and conducting workshops, audits, meetings, interviews…

IT companies have very quickly improved the software for remote communication. This has many advantages but naturally also its disadvantages. For a certain number of people, the basic administrative work they do can be solved in this way without any problems – language courses and other activities, too. For example, we performed an online audit last year.

It's true that when someone signs out from a language course at the last minute (or even doesn’t sign out at all), it's a little different to when they don't come to the classroom – not letting the teacher know when you have a lot of work to do and acting as if nothing is happening or has happened. The fact is, it is and it has! The teacher still has to be paid, and it's somehow less personal.

The organizational benefits, time and money savings, ensuring health – those are the positives. Unfortunately, on the other hand, relationships are less personal.

That said, I believe that many companies will have discovered how effective it is to solve certain things primarily online and will probably continue to do so even when the pandemic is behind us.

4. Increasing computer literacy

Many people, especially parents, had to quickly learn how to use new means of communication, mainly because of distance learning in schools. Although they were forced to, I believe it will be proved to be an invaluable skill for those who didn’t understand computers so well.

Nowadays, computer literacy is a basic requirement for a huge number of occupations and leisure activities. It can therefore be expected that the importance of such skills will only increase in the future. This situation forces us to acquire new knowledge – and that’s a good thing. Especially small children have made gains in this regard.

5. Increasing turnover of some companies and people moving to other sectors

I don’t want to offend the owners of businesses that have had to shut down their operations, but simply put, there are sectors that the crisis has not harmed. These are fewer than those that have, but they do exist. For example, catering services, internet companies, internet shops, HW and SW companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc. So, like after every "war", the workforce is likely to move to other professions.

This point also has another important aspect to it.

Those companies that are doing well now are creating new jobs, looking for part-time workers, innovating, paying taxes, etc. They are helping to mitigate the effects of the crisis on society as a whole and are enabling people to overcome difficult times. Let's value them!

For instance, those people from affected companies have been able to find jobs elsewhere - delivering food and shopping for others, working in warehouses, doing administrative tasks or other activities for companies that continue to operate. They don’t have to sit idly at home but are able to continue to work and feed their families, even though I fully realize and accept that such a change definitely isn’t easy.

In our case, we’re still holding on and haven’t had to lay anyone off. The performance of our translation agency in 2020 was approximately the same as in 2019. We are all doing our best to generate enough projects and continue to provide customers with professional translation services. As always, we’re here for our translators as well. We’ll see how everything goes but we remain optimistic.

 

The current situation is not easy for anyone. That said, I’ve already adopted a mindset that always tries to look for the good. Why? Because it helps me to overcome even the most difficult times. Thank you for reading this article. I hope it gives you some inspiration for the coming months. I hope they’ll be less complicated than the recent ones and that you’ll cope with everything life throws at you.

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