There’s a definite sense of deja vu this morning writing up our year in review. It’d be easy to focus on the impending sense of doom from Omicron as uncertainty haunts the end of 2021 as it did the end of 2020, but I’m going to resist that temptation today in favour of reflecting on some of our significant achievements this year, of which there have been many.
2021 hasn’t been an easy year; emerging from the depths of the pandemic into the “new normal” has brought with it its own challenges, whether that’s in terms of recruitment, implementing hybrid working, or encouraging clients to commit to contracts in a world that has never seemed less certain.
However, this year has brought more than its fair share of highlights, which we can reflect positively on as we head into the new year.
Friday drinks and Monday morning bacon sarnies: The return to the office
Bringing everyone back to the office and some form of face-to-face working was a huge milestone this year. We decided early on to introduce a hybrid policy, mixing working from home with working in the office.
For us, keeping an office presence is absolutely crucial. We know we can work well remotely with little to no notice – indeed with hundreds of extended team members worldwide, we’ve always been set up to work in this way.
This capability has been so important recently thanks to the government’s flip-flopping over restrictions and guidance, but there are parts of working life that cannot be replicated remotely.
The small social interactions that come from being amongst your colleagues are so important to working relationships, and the sheer amount of time saved by asking quick questions rather than arranging yet another call cannot be underestimated.
This is particularly the case for those who joined last year in lockdown and had never met their colleagues face to face.
With these colleagues in particular, we’re keen to grow our training and development support with platforms like Udemy, but also face-to-face workshops and coaching.
Of course people have different comfort levels when it comes to Covid, and it’s admittedly been hard at times as a business to balance these differing needs. I think we’ve done a pretty good job all in all, ensuring the office is a comfortable, fun, yet safe place to work for all our staff.
Contracts and diversification: New client wins
One of our key objectives this year for ICS-translate, our dedicated translations brand, was to increase the number of clients we have in priority sectors.
These include niches like travel, SAAS, property and more, outside of our traditional specialisms within highly regulated sectors like finance and iGaming.
Our credentials in the iGaming space have deepened over the last five years, and it’s a fair assumption that we will continue to specialise in providing operators and affiliates with translations and localisation services designed to fit their specific needs.
We don’t, however, want to silo ourselves in just a few industries; and while we’re proud to be seen as experts across a range of sectors, it’s been our goal to build up that reputation across a wider range of industries.
I feel confident that we can follow the pattern that we’ve seen over the years in ICS-digital, with expertise and experience gained in iGaming and finance to grow our visibility in other, similarly competitive industries such as health, wellness, dating, eCommerce and more.
In both ICS-digital and ICS-translate, we’ve been keen to continue placing a commercial focus on contracted work across all services. The conditions of 2021 haven’t made this an easy ask for all existing and new clients.
That said, we’ve been continually thankful that so many clients have been working with us to develop long-term contracts that are a win-win for us all; relationships that provide enhanced KPIs and value for them, and more capacity to plan ahead for us and our teams.
It seems that the desire for additional security and comfort now exists on both agency and client-side, and that’s a really positive trend that I hope lasts beyond the pandemic.
Foreign adventures: Travel returns!
It wouldn’t be right to talk about 2021 without mentioning our return to conference and event life.
Hopping on a plane isn’t quite the experience it used to be, what with the never-ending PCR tests and vaccine passports etc, but our trips to Amsterdam and Malta in particular proved that the faff is well worth it.
If nothing else, it felt to us like those who had made the effort to travel really had the intention to agree deals and to get things over the line. We’re still following up on leads from those events, which highlights the importance of them to our commercial pipeline.
Hopefully, in 2022 the restrictions on travel will continue to ease so that events don’t take quite so much forward-planning and expense, but regardless, we’re already looking ahead to the events calendar to see where opportunity may lie.
Our team has worked incredibly hard this year, leading us to another year of growth in spite of the challenges we all face. Who knows what 2022 will bring, but we’ll start it with optimism no matter what Boris and his buddies confront us with in the new year.