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Atlas translations

The ATC’s Member of the Month in May 2021 is Atlas Translations, mindful employer, champion of a four-day working week, and Brexit & Covid success story.

We caught up with Atlas’ owner and director Clare Suttie, who started the company a cool 30 years ago. Atlas Translations celebrates its three decades not just by winning the Company of the Year Award at the ATC Language Industry Awards in 2020, but also the ITI’s Corporate Member Award in 2021.

“Very unexpectedly, this has been Atlas Translations’ best year ever, totally out of the blue,” says Clare. “For us, it was actually the year of the original Brexit referendum that nearly finished the company off. The phone just didn’t ring, contracts disappeared, and EU clients moved elsewhere.”

“It was unsettling, but it has also meant that we did a lot of reorganisation already back then, in 2016-17. That is what saved us now. Before, we had just sat back and relied on personal recommendations and our website. Work had always come to us and we had a good reputation, but then suddenly we were struggling.”

Atlas Translations did back in 2016-17 what many companies have done over the Covid year – invested in new technology, worked on their website, set up SEO and online advertising. But it wasn’t obvious it was going to work, says Clare, “We had had a really good year up to Covid kicking off, but then I thought this is it, we’re finished. My staff kept on reassuring me, told me to look at the figures, told me the phone is still ringing. I finally had to believe it, we had turned a corner and things were working really well.”

Throughout the pandemic year, apart from business, Clare’s focus has been on Atlas’ staff welfare. The company signed the Charter for Employers Positive about Mental Health from Mindful Employer, demonstrating their commitment to creating a supportive and open culture where colleagues feel able to talk about mental health.

For Clare, it’s all about being a family company, caring about staff, raising awareness, and treating people well.

Atlas Translations introduced a four-day working week a few years ago, and it has proven its worth. “There are not many places to go to in a small company,” explains Clare, “and one of the challenges we have had in the past is hanging on to good people. There is no catch, the salary is the same, and our staff just get an extra day off per week. It’s a way for us to offer our people quality of life that they won’t get elsewhere, but it has also served us well throughout the pandemic when nobody has wanted to take any holidays because there’s nowhere to go. Our staff has worked incredibly hard, and the extra day off per week has allowed them to recover.”

For Clare and Atlas Translations, ATC membership means being part of a community and a dynamic, forward-looking association, “It’s great to see the variety of the ATC’s initiatives develop, and for the association to also reach out beyond the language services industry to external stakeholders and the wider public.”

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