Business in the UK: the challenges facing organisations in 2020 and beyond

the challenges facing UK organisations in 2020 and beyond

This year has presented some extreme and unique challenges. We've all had to deal with the unexpected, no matter what our profession or our company size. At our virtual event: Defining the Future of Work: Planning for the Unplannable, Violeta Martin, Area Vice President, Commercial Sales at DocuSign, interviewed DocuSign customers; Clear Channel, Womble Bond Dickinson and Deliveroo.  They discuss how they’ve been adapting to the unpredictable this year: quickly pivoting their workforces, operations and strategies to keep their businesses moving forward. 

Here, we catch up with Violeta and get her thoughts on the current challenges being faced by UK businesses, how they can tackle them as well as looking at how her team have adapted during the pandemic.

What kind of challenges have you seen businesses facing in 2020?

Any business leader appreciates a stable environment where predictability is high and medium-long term planning is possible. 2020 has brought a level of uncertainty that none of us could have anticipated.  This has made it very difficult for most organisations who had to quickly pivot business models and operational processes to adapt to the new environment. 

Businesses operating in certain sectors like tourism and hospitality have seen their revenues dramatically decrease over night, stress testing their operation cash levels. On the other hand, businesses in sectors where demand has spiked during the pandemic have had their own difficulties. They had to figure out how to cope with the rapidly growing and unforeseen demand while supporting their partner ecosystem and the wellbeing of their employees.  

Can you speak about specific challenges that small businesses in the UK are facing?

Many businesses didn’t have the right technology and processes to support their entire employee population to work from home. A recent survey conducted by DocuSign found that 43% of people reported an increase of 75% in documents that needed to be signed electronically. This represented a significant obstacle that added to the drop of revenue. The retail sector in particular has been disrupted significantly with companies having to open or grow their online commerce presence to be able to maintain a revenue stream. ‘Digital first’ organisations, which already had best in class technology infrastructure, were able to transition quickly into a full time remote environment.

What is your best small business advice to overcome these challenges?

In times of scarcity or uncertainty I think that organisations need to direct their focus on what’s most important and the core of their business: their customers and their employees. Organisations that are not afraid to make bold decisions and take calculated risks to adjust business models or strategies are the ones that typically survive in a rapidly changing environment. 

Why are small businesses so important in the UK?

SMBs have long been the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for 99.9% of the business population. They generate local, decentralised employment and act as the main incubator for talent and innovation in the country. 

How have you and your team adapted in 2020?

We have relied heavily on the use of technology to maintain and build a collaborative environment with our customers, partners and extended team within DocuSign. Not without its challenges, I am proud to say the team has done a phenomenal job adjusting to the new way of working and continue to deliver the highest standard to our customers. 

We have onboarded new team members—individuals who have never stepped foot in our offices or met any team members face-to-face. The way the tenure team members have rallied around new team members, mentoring and supporting them throughout their onboarding has been extremely rewarding to see. The team has pulled together to support each other. 

Building a fair environment and celebrating as a team has always been at the core of our team. One of the  hardest things this year has been the restriction on face-to face-time together.  However, working from home has allowed us to see another, potentially more intimate side of our colleagues' lives. I feel in the long run our relationships will become even stronger as a result.

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