Surrey Translation Bureau

“Breathe is very intuitive to use and well-thought-out. Even when doing something new or using a new feature, it just makes sense.”


Who are Surrey Translation Bureau?

Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) are a translation company based in Farnham, Surrey. They’ve spent over 35 years offering linguistic services to clients worldwide, in almost all world languages. Documentation they translate varies from marketing materials and web content, to technical manuals and legal documents.

STB are a small family-owned business with an excellent reputation within the translation industry. They work with an impressive network of over 500 specialist translators to deliver the best service possible to their clients.

Ruth Parkin, Surrey Translation Bureau

With just under 20 employees, the team are passionate about helping young people enter the translation industry. They offer internships and love to go into schools and universities to talk about working in the languages industry.

Ruth Parkin has been leading the HR function at STB for the last 3 years in her role as HR and Compliance Officer, having been at the company for 8 years, gaining experience across various roles.

Old-school holiday management

Before implementing Breathe, the biggest HR-related challenge the team at STB were facing was tracking annual leave: they were getting by with a clunky index card system, whereby each employee would have their own card to manually record the dates they’d like off and how many days this totalled and left for the employee to take. This would then be given to their line manager for sign-off. Line managers had no quick overview of remaining holiday and for employees, this was a long-winded way of recording and approving holiday.

“It was a flawed system that involved an onerous amount of admin. It ended up generating quite a lot of errors,”

- Ruth, HR & Compliance Officer

The hunt for a more efficient solution

Managing Director of STB, George Cooke, decided that a new solution was needed to better monitor annual leave. He was looking for a system that also catered to all types of HR needs and after searching online, he discovered Breathe.

The holiday management feature certainly jumped out due to the challenges they were looking to resolve and he liked that Breathe was purpose-built for companies of their size and the fact that it was much more cost-effective than other solutions.

George was sold, so after getting a second opinion from the acting Head of Operations, it was agreed that Breathe looked like the right solution for the business.


5 years on: less admin with a ‘one-stop-shop’ system

Without Breathe in place, Ruth would be spending so much more time logging all sorts of things manually, from uploading performance documentation to recording assigned equipment:

“I really don’t know where to start with the ways that Breathe helps me to do my job more efficiently,” she says.

“HR work is already admin-heavy a lot of the time, so Breathe has really made a difference to me. By having a central solution I save time, meaning I’m able to be on-hand to help employees if they have any problems and investigate legalities, if necessary. Breathe really takes the stress out of things.”

Tailoring the system to cover different working patterns

Thanks to Breathe’s customisable working patterns, Ruth can cater for every employee within the system, regardless of the hours or days they work:

“We have a number of working parents at STB who don’t necessarily work a standard working pattern. I love that you can customise working patterns in Breathe to cater for different employees.”  Comments Ruth.

A useful system for employees

 Breathe has proved to be a really valuable tool for employees at STB, too, thanks to the ease of use and clear visibility.

“Breathe is so easy to navigate and logging leave is so much easier than using index cards. It’s really easy to track how many days holiday I have left and how many bank holidays we have, too. The calendar sync is really useful as well – previously I had to manually add my holidays to my Outlook calendar.”  

“The dashboard is simple and easy to understand. It makes life so much less complicated. I no longer need to go to my line manager to double-check my holidays – it's all within Breathe. I also found it really useful when I had a marketing intern join the team: keeping track of one-to-ones and holidays was effortless. It’s a very good time management tool.”

- Marketing Manager, Marya 


Responding quickly to concerns

Once Ruth moved into her HR role, she was keen to ensure employee data was stored securely. At the time, there was a single layer of security to protect sensitive information within Breathe, which was password protection.

Ruth got in touch with the team at Breathe to discuss this further: she was pleasantly surprised by how much Breathe listened to her concerns and after looking into this more in-depth, they later introduced a two-factor authentication feature and even invited Ruth to be part of the group of beta testers.

“It was really nice to be asked to test it and I felt like I was having input on the development of Breathe,” Ruth says. “This feature is helping us protect our time and money by reducing the risk of a data breach.”


A recommended system for SMEs

“Having used Breathe for the last 5 years, it’s evident during this period that Breathe has gone from strength to strength and has now made a name for itself,” Ruth comments.

“It’s consistently recommended by heavyweights in the HR field as a one-stop-shop for meeting HR needs on a daily basis – and here at STB, we absolutely agree!”

“Breathe is very intuitive to use and well-thought-out. Even when doing something new or using a new feature, it just makes sense.”