The Virtual LSP

Terena Bell
10 min readApr 30, 2021

For One Translation Provider, Brexit and Covid Meant the End of the Physical Office Forever

Before the covid-19 pandemic, 78 to 83 percent of people who worked for language services providers (LSP’s) worldwide reported into a physical office, according to Common Sense Advisory. But last March, everything changed. On Friday the 13th, the United States declared the virus a national emergency. Video meeting platform Zoom became the most downloaded app in the Apple store, collaboration tool Microsoft Teams saw a 500 percent use increase in China, and Google started offering its video Hangouts Meet product for free. Three days later, on March 16th, French president Emmanuel Macron ordered mandatory fines for people who left their homes and on March 23rd, UK prime minister Boris Johnson followed suit. By the end of the month, only 13 countries in the whole world had not experienced some form of governmental quarantine, lockdown, or “on pause.” And the number of global LSP employees going into a physical office every day? Well, that fell as low as three percent. In two and a half weeks, white-collar workers went from being strapped to their desks to stuck in their homes, homes that had now become offices whether they or their employers liked it or not. The world was virtual.

Anja Jones — Photo credit: GetSet for Growth

But in the sleepy tourism town of Newquay, England, population 20,343, Anja Jones Translation (AJT) had gotten a head start. Over the past year or so, managing director Anja Jones had been working with office manager Nikki Cowland to transition the company out of the physical world and into the online one. Not because of covid, but due to Brexit, the January 31, 2020 departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Pre-Brexit, “Anyone from within the EU could come to the UK and ha[ve] the right to live and work [t]here,” Jones says. This had enabled her growing company to employ native language translators originally from the continent. But, she explains, with the “UK declaring itself out of the European Union, that freedom of movement stop[ped].” Work visas were now required. New hires had to prove prior residence or apply for an EU settlement scheme. “What that means for us as employers is we need to register as visa sponsors and we need to pay a certain amount of money to obtain those visas,” Jones says. To make matters even more costly, visas also now require a minimum salary of £25,600 a year…

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Terena Bell

Reporter & fiction writer; series editor, Writing Through the Classics; short story editor for hire; sponsor more writing here: buymeacoffee.com/terenabell