The COVID-19 outbreak created a massive business interruption problem for businesses across the globe. This was met with many companies and businesses embracing a “new normal” of social distancing and legislative lockdowns that significantly disrupted supply chains and the overall country’s GDP. One of the biggest effects COVID-19 has had in the business world is the switch from in-office to remote (virtual) style working. It may be that this trend takes on a more permanence than originally thought. We are likely to see a permanent change from offices and businesses in high rise buildings across the world.
Review 42 pulled some interesting facts about remote workplaces in early 2021. There was a reported 99% of surveyed remote workers with a preference for continued working from home – and 55% of businesses globally already offer some permanent type of remote work for employees.
This changing landscape for global workforces is creating new risks organisations need to be identifying, analysing, and treating accordingly. This article will cover a few ways how risk management is stepping up to the challenge of addressing this new risk environment.
Taking a Close Look at Cyber Vulnerabilities
When employees are working remotely, a new range of cyber risks are likely to exist.
IT business units are accustomed to managing on-site system security. This is a less complex challenge than dealing with remote employees all in a variety of locations accessing company systems using unvetted internet connections.
When COVID-19 hit, cybercriminals were given a perfect opportunity to infiltrate company IT infrastructures and wreak havoc. Risk management helps drive the discussions on what new cyber risk sources have emerged with remote work and how to respond to these risk sources before they turn into a cyber-breach or some other form of cyber event.
Preparation is key in thwarting cyber-attacks and risk management processes can play a vital role in taking control of the cyber battlefield.
Addressing Workplace Safety
With businesses having to go virtual to avoid business interruptions, having access to these remote workplaces became a true challenge.
When employee behaviour is not observable, it is difficult for HSE professionals to address hazards existing in the workplace. Businesses simply have little control over this risk source – one that could lead to an increase in employee injury claims.
Injury claims could be difficult to avoid, if not addressed with some form of mitigation strategy. One way risk professionals can help reduce frequency is through providing remote workplace training focused on identifying and removing workplace hazards. This can be followed up with consistent communications that help drive these hazard analysis processes into everyday employee behaviour.
Focusing on Mental Health of Employees
For those who have worked remotely for a considerable amount time, there is an awareness of times when it is just difficult to disconnect from work.
When your “office is your home is your office” there can be an increase of work-burnout. The inability to move about freely due to the pandemic has increased cases of depression and other mental issues related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Risk management processes help identify this as a priority to address, before it leads to a loss of an employee due to mental health issues. Risk managers can collaborate with Human Resource professionals to have resources in place for employees who are now going 100% virtual for the foreseeable future if not indefinitely.