Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
5:00 AM 2nd January 2021

Saturday Essay: Top 5 Business Predictions For The Year Ahead

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny gives her 5 top business predicitons for the year ahead.

As leader of a company that has been on hand to help businesses mange peaks and troughs in customer service demand throughout the pandemic, she is well placed to predict business trends.
Moneypenny provides outsourced communications services for a range of companies, from SMEs and start-ups to large corporates including BMW, and across multiple industry sectors, like plumbing, property, travel, law, retail and healthcare.

1 Mental Health will be top of the HR agenda
Fallout from the pandemic is likely to continue well into 2021 and will bring challenges in terms of the mental health of the workforce.

Company leaders need to modernise their management style and be more collaborative and in tune with staff mental health, especially with the new normal in which large numbers of staff are working from home. The large established corporate companies may resist this change as they have built their business and reputations on a certain style of leadership, but this needs to be challenged to get the most out of a new, more aware and potentially more emotionally vulnerable workforce

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
2 New businesses will rise Phoenix-like, from the ashes
A major business opportunity will be the rise of new businesses in continuing growth sectors like online retail and outsourced communications. Just as the World Wars led to changes in opportunities for female workers, so these new businesses and the hybrid office/home working system, will provide increased employment opportunities for women. For example, Moneypenny has recruited more than 300 employees since March, the majority of whom transferred from declining sectors - 23% came from hospitality, and 29% from retail, with the vast majority being female.

3 Improving the productivity of SMEs
A key business challenge for 2021 will be supporting previously profitable small businesses that have been hard hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and in helping them to increase their productivity. And this help needs to come from fellow businesses, as well as from government.

Moneypenny is, for example, supporting SMEs through the BtB Government mentoring programme and is also helping by providing communication technologies designed and built for large enterprises, but reconfigured in terms of usability and cost.

4 Communication technology will continue to play a key role
Communication technology is getting smarter, and in a hybrid office, technology will have an even greater role to play, seamlessly connecting two very different working environments by enabling people to maintain a ‘presence’ in the office when in fact they are somewhere else.
For example, Moneypenny saw an increase in demand for bespoke outsourced comms systems, as the complexity of hybrid office/home working means one size doesn’t fit all, and companies will have to work harder to provide the right, bespoke systems.

5 The hybrid office/home-working model is here to stay
The hybrid combination of home-working with some office working, will continue however Joanna believes offices are still vitally important to the future of work. Striking the right balance will be challenging, and some employers may resist a move away from the traditional office-based workforce. Others, having calculated the cost-benefit of a home-based workforce, and the fact that remote staff can be just as productive, could question the need to maintain a centralised office workspace. However, the office is far from dead and has a vital role to play in delivering a strong employee culture alongside fulfilling employees’ emotional and wellbeing needs along with training and development.

Joanna Swash was recruited as Moneypenny’s first sales person 13 years ago, and is now Group CEO of an international business that has grown to employ more than 1000 people across continents, with £50m turnover in 2020. The company manages more than 20 million customer communications for over 21,000 businesses in the UK and the US, providing Live Chat, Telephone Answering Services and Digital and Outsourced Switchboards and has made several acquisitions both in the UK and the US.
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