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How COVID-19 Has Reshaped the World of Translation and Interpretation Permanently

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Over the past two years, there has been a significant change in the way that every successful business operates. When COVID-19 first hit, businesses in an already remote world had to adapt to a wave of modifications to keep up with everything going on around them. As a result, the changes that many people thought to be temporary are becoming the new normal.

These changes that were created to adapt to a world with less in-person contact seem to be here to stay. From therapists to language service providers, many businesses now permanently offer their services online. But how exactly has COVID-19 affected different businesses, like the world of translating and interpreting?

Services Hit the Worst by the Pandemic

55% of service providers saw a decrease in business due to COVID. Because the pandemic made in-person contact as minimal as possible, most businesses and language service providers tried to adapt by moving their services online. Unfortunately, this had varying results for different services and providers.

The language services that have been most negatively affected by COVID-19 were face-to-face translating and interpreting, especially in the travel and business realms. Because travel was minimized during the pandemic, this field of interpreting was affected most negatively as it is best utilized face-to-face when assisting a client who doesn’t know the language of an area.

Services Thriving During the Pandemic

Services Thriving During the PandemicPhoto from Getty Images

While some sectors of language services were hit hard by the pandemic, other areas saw a dramatic rise in their business. One area that is specifically thriving is translation and interpretation services for telehealth purposes. Everyone needs to see their doctor, but not everyone can go to them in person, especially during a pandemic.

Because of the massive move of healthcare online, telehealth now has some of the largest needs for remote interpreters and translators. According to the same survey done by CSA research, 59% of language service providers reported higher demand from medical and pharmaceutical fields as well as life science fields. Because of this increased need for language services in the online world of health, this sector of interpreting and translating has quickly become the most popular during the pandemic.

Language Services Before COVID-19

To better understand how COVID-19 has changed the world of translation and interpretation, you have to consider how the business world functioned before the pandemic. Before 2020, many businesses were not accustomed to operating with a remote force or prepared to offer products and services online.

Most online language services were offered by companies that were already 100% online before the pandemic. Because of this, in-person translation for events, travel and leisure, and business and commercial services were the most popular categories that used language services. But things dramatically changed.

The Outcome of COVID-19 on Language Services

The Outcome of COVID-19 on Language ServicesPhoto from Getty Images

1. Working with New Market Demands

As a result of the pandemic and many businesses moving online, there was a large change in the markets that were demanding language services. Travel, which was one of the most popular markets for language services, suddenly had the lowest market demands for translating and interpreting services. Healthcare, on the other hand, became one of the top users of translators and interpreters in the online world.

Medical and healthcare providers are familiar with these services as they are required by law to provide language services to their patients. However, with the rising number of patients came an even greater need for translators and interpreters, particularly those who offered their services remotely.

The pharmaceutical and medical fields saw some of the biggest increases in demands for remote language services because they had to suddenly transfer their services online. When this happened, these fields needed assistance to ensure that their patients were clearly understood and taken care of. Telehealth has now become one of the most popular ways for a healthcare facility to operate.

Telehealth resources give patients the ability to see their doctor or therapist from the comfort of their own homes. But for those who may speak a different language than their healthcare professionals, a language barrier can cause problems. In the medical field, it is crucial that the patient can communicate with their medical provider to ensure they receive the care they need.

2. Change in How Translators and Interpreters Operate

Once COVID-19 hit, the need for in-person translation almost disappeared. It was then quickly replaced with a drastic need for online translation throughout different markets that hadn’t used them much before. While the increase in demand from these new markets seemed like a good thing, it was extremely difficult for many language businesses operating traditionally face-to-face to adapt to.

Language service providers had to find a way to modify their operations so that they could work remote. Translators and interpreters had to learn how to work from home so they could continue to offer their services to clients. Some of the most popular changes in operations that now benefit the organizations that use language service providers include:

  • Creating a website that is easily navigated and helpful to the customer
  • 24/7 phone translating services
  • Telehealth language services
  • Offering remote translation and interpreting services in different formats such as video conferences and Zoom, phone calls, or through cloud-based applications

3. Becoming Familiar with Video Calls and Zoom

Video calls, video conferencing, and virtual meetings have become some of the most important methods of communication throughout the pandemic. In a socially distanced world, many people feel isolated. Video calls allow businesses to easily communicate face-to-face with their employees and clients without having to be physically present, which is extremely beneficial to language service providers.

With its many meeting options and customizable settings, Zoom’s video call services are the perfect alternative to in-person meetings and appointments. Some businesses have heavily leveraged the benefits of virtual meetings, and they may replace face-to-face meetings and translation permanently.

4. Change in Expectations and Quality Standards

With the increase of more professional markets like healthcare needing language services, the quality standards and expectations of translators are extremely high. In the medical field, there is no room for error, which is why having an interpreter with skills that you can trust is crucial when you or a client speak a different language. Quality standards were also increased when video calls became a new normal. While high quality is always expected, both the client and the business need to have a mutual understanding that internet services and connectivity can be unpredictable.

What Does the Future Look Like?

Remote Zoom CallPhoto from Getty Images

With what seems like constant changes over the past few years, the most important thing for any business to embrace is to be ready to adapt. For example, if you had to shift your services remote, you may need to hire a translator for meetings. The future is seemingly full of accessible online platforms and new methods of communication for businesses and clients alike, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of them. While face-to-face services aren’t completely ruled out in the future, it’s clear that remote services are here to stay.

Positives of Remote Language Services

For many businesses, the initial transition from in-person to remote services was hectic and haphazard in response to COVID-19. As technology services have also greatly improved to meet demands, there are a variety of benefits to retaining remote services indefinitely. Here are some of the advantages that come with using a remote language service:

1. Improved Accessibility

One of the biggest advantages of remote language services is their accessibility. Almost any internet-connected device can be used for remote language services, whether it is a mobile phone, tablet, or computer. It’s easy for a variety of different people to work with a remote language service provider that fits their needs. In fact, many clients find themselves using language services more often when those services are offered remotely because they are so convenient and easy to use.

2. Enhanced Flexibility

Online language services are also incredibly flexible. There are no location restrictions as there are with in-person translation or interpreting. This makes choosing a time for a meeting easier, and clients can reach a translator almost immediately when needed. Remote language services are flexible, letting you access them from wherever you are, at whatever time you need.

3. Wider Reach

Another great benefit to online language service providers is that they can work with a much larger client base. The internet has millions of users located across the world, many of which are businesses. Clients can select from a large range of providers and are no longer bound by their location when businesses are operating remotely.

4. Lower Costs

With online services, the costs are often lower for both the language service providers and the clients. By eliminating travel expenses such as fuel and potential tolls, hiring a language service provider online usually costs much less.

How COVID-19 Has Changed an Already Remote World

How COVID-19 Has Changed an Already Remote WorldPhoto from Getty Images

Many of the changes initiated by the pandemic are here to stay, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The online world offers an endless number of beneficial resources for all businesses and services, allowing people to feel more connected than ever.

For example, by leveraging a wide range of translation and interpretation services already available, such as remote video interpretation and Zoom meeting interpretation.

Contact us if you’re interested in discussing your language service needs.

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