Meet the business founder employing remote workers in coronavirus-ravaged communities around the world.
A decade’s worth of heartbreaking business stories may have been condensed into mere days over the past week, but one Leeds-based tech firm currently enjoying brisk trade has been able to ‘share the love’ with communities where paid work is needed most.
Joshua Atkins founded Jublo a decade ago to work on open source software development projects, and over the past five years he has steadily expanded into translation work as well.
One of his main clients – a major international online retailer – kept his dispersed global team of freelance translators busy throughout February, and when more work came in for March, Atkins saw the chance to do his bit in a time of crisis.
“What we decided to do,” he said, “is concentrate our efforts on supporting people who don’t really have any work on at the moment and who may be struggling to provide for their families. We’ve already got remote workers in every corner of the world, so we said to them: why don’t you reach out to your groups and see if there are professional translators out there?”
The shout-out went to coronavirus-hit communities in Spain, Japan and China, among others, and in the space of mere weeks, Atkins’ team has doubled in size, to 140 people.
Great work leads to more orders
The client has been so impressed by Jublo’s ability to complete the translation work that they’ve ordered more. “The more linguists we have, the more work we can fulfil,” notes Atkins, “and that will keep us afloat. If we can help people to work, then obviously they’re earning money, too.”
Atkins admits that the work-from-home nature of his business has made it comparatively straightforward for him and his dispersed team to carry on through the crisis, but he is also coming to terms with the fact that life has changed even for experienced remote workers, too.
“People’s working lives may be affected by childcare or having to look after family or to go shopping,” he said. “We understand that the work pattern will be changing, and we’ve tried to change our attitudes to that, too.”
He explains that whereas previously eyebrows might have been raised if someone suddenly pulled out of an assignment they’d committed to, Jublo is now striving for a more lenient approach.
“We put a message out saying that we do understand the situation and that in return we just ask that our workers be mindful of us, too,” Atkins said. “But we want people to put themselves first, and we’re saying that if you’re feeling that you’re burnt out or you don’t need any more work, don’t take it on.”
In times like these, says the founder, businesses need to be more agile and flexible than ever. “You need to be open-minded,” he said, “because you never know how the world is going to change.”
Top three coronavirus tips from Joshua
- Communication is key
Be as honest as you can, and use tools such as Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep dialogue open.
- Put wellbeing first
Encourage everyone to take breaks and to get fresh air.
- Be realistic with goals
Both on a personal and business level.