Remotely Busy: Operational Resilience during COVID-19
‘Oh, sorry, I was on mute’. We’ve all had to get used to different ways of working recently, and adapting to the extended use of videoconferencing has been just one aspect of the business response to COVID-19.
Overall though, our industry has remained resilient in the face of the health crisis and the widespread shift to remote working.
Ensuring employee wellbeing remains the priority. In a time of health concerns and general uncertainty, efforts have been concentrated on supporting staff. Accommodating those with caring commitments and allowing more flexibility has also been important. Likewise, driving employee engagement through increased communications has helped many to maintain morale and help staff adjust. But the longer this continues, the more support employees will need, and our new best practice guide on working from home (WFH) looks at ways firms can provide this.
Initially, we all faced some technological and operational difficulties moving to WFH. Not least remembering where the unmute button is. However, WFH is proving to be sustainable for the immediate future and many of the initial technological issues have been resolved. In fact, many firms have positively grasped the digital agenda, with the virus highlighting the redundancy of processes like faxes and wet signatures in a remote environment.
However along with digitalisation comes an increase in cyber-crime and COVID-19-related scams. To account for the rise in criminal activity, many have put controls in place such as awareness training, testing, electronic signatures and further investment in firewalls. It was noted that even with increased security arrangements, one of the most concerning aspects is social vulnerability to scams particularly at a time when individuals feel anxious and are more susceptible to fraud.
Similarly, employees operating outside of the office control environment have posed challenges. But firms have remained resilient in the face of these increased operational risk and implemented safeguarding arrangements such as recorded lines and digital signatures.
The resilience of firms has been aided by their supply chains and third parties who have been proactive in their communications and understanding of the need for additional oversight measures. Of more concern was the widespread reliance on India for outsourced services. The rapidity of the lockdown in India, combined with its lack of a remote working culture and associated infrastructure, has caused concern. Going forward, will we see firms reassessing their global footprint?
The future world of work holds many uncertainties. When and how can we return to our offices, and what will this look like? Firms are preparing for different scenarios and taking official advice into account, as staff safety and wellbeing is the number one priority.
So it seems the days of the alternate recovery site are numbered, and perhaps the sprawling open-plan office too. But in the meantime, our industry has remained remarkably resilient, thanks to everyone’s efforts.