Addressing rapid organizational change
As more employees are working at least partially from home, remote work risks are something we need to mitigate. Leaders focused on keeping employees safe from exposure and the business running during COVID. Although some experts believe more employees will return to the office over time, others suggest working from home is the new normal. I agree with those that indicate the latter.
Indeed, many employees appreciate the increased flexibility and reduced commuting time and costs. Once limited to specific sectors or privileges, flexibility to work from a home office became normalized due to the pandemic. I’ve heard it said that business jumped five years ahead in months. Of course, some industries remain in-person-only, especially retail, manufacturing, critical services (hospitals, first responders), or laboratories. However, efforts were already underway to digitalize some aspects of those interactions, so time will tell if more employees shift into work from home-focused careers.
Mini-series on remote working risks
Going into 2023, resilience professionals must consider increased risks from this shift in work-life. In particular, there are concerns regarding safety, security, business, and employee wellbeing. These areas should factor into your risk assessment for continuity, risk management, crisis management, physical, IT, cyber, Infosec, and business operations. My series will provide targeted areas I recommend analyzing as part of your administrative and strategic planning.
I am focusing on employee safety risks to start the first in this series on working from home perils. Many of you commented that it is a business concern after I posted the Is Working From Home A Business Risk blog. I’ll discuss work-from-home safety risks in the first of the series. Next, we will review security concerns, operational risks, and dangers to employee wellbeing.
Why consider these risks?
As we move into the later pandemic phase, resilience professionals must evaluate all aspects of a well-functioning organization. We want to do this because our roles–regardless of the focus area–put us in the position of safeguarding the company. So, it benefits the enterprise when we conduct 360 reviews to assess exposures and work to mitigate them.
A resilient organization cannot thrive or bounce back quickly if we are not trying to identify gaps. Additionally, reducing the likelihood of adverse outcomes to operations, assets, and employees is the bedrock of building resiliency. We all realize that risks can both be internal and external. Managing those risks can make the difference between a secure or vulnerable company.
How resilience professionals can add value
So, let’s discuss why it is helpful for us to be in the mix to share our concerns and recommendations for encouraging remote work safety. Strategic groups, talent, recruiting, HR, employee relations, and business units discuss work from home. Return to normally post-COVID means that most organizations offer remote positions to prospective and existing employees.
If your company is one of those that can’t or won’t offer this option, you at least need to understand what levers to pull to attract talent. For you, it may appeal to extroverts, creating an in-person culture that thrives on togetherness and collaboration. Additionally, a little FOMO is in play for 100% in-person and flexible workplaces looking to increase their office attendance. For those in the trenches with a workplace landscape that spans in-person, hybrid, and virtual teams, you need to consider these variables to achieve business resilience.
The importance of risk management efforts
The BSI indicates that risks common to organizations, large or small, can include company data that isn’t effectively protected, lack of business continuity planning, or the impact of a health and safety incident. The same applies to reducing the odds of adverse effects on employees working remotely. Resilience professionals have the opportunity to analyze the company and recommend viable next-step actions. As companies are actively planning for and implementing the subsequent post-COVID initiatives, it makes sense that we do the same.
If you are not already involved in internal efforts to integrate business and resilience planning, I suggest you seek them out. Or, you can lobby to participate. Having a seat at the table during this time is vital to long-term success. At a minimum, you can address any opportunities to make adjustments or refresh programming within your preview if you’ve already been doing this–great job! It’s always gratifying to be part of proactive efforts.
What you can do now
The first step is to identify gaps in current programming for immediate mitigation. I will provide insights I gained over the last few years aimed at helping you with this series. Hopefully, you will either learn that you have checked the box along with me on what to consider. Or, you will gain ideas you can incorporate into your strategic and tactical efforts.
Finally, I want to hear from you. I certainly haven’t thought of everything or uncovered all considerations. I want to know what additional suggestions you have. My aim with this blog was always to be a resource but to encourage knowledge sharing. So, I encourage you to post your comments in the hope that it educates fellow practitioners and me. Like COVID, we are in this together on some level. Even if your company is entirely in-person and office based, your customer, suppliers, and vendors are likely not. So, you want to know what to know how they are preparing to keep their employees resilient.