The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant global disruption, not only for people’s livelihoods but also for corporations who have had to find ways to adapt to the pandemic aftereffects and a changed way of working. Remote and hybrid work is now embedded as the new normal for much of society, bringing with it many new business and operational challenges.
Most organisations plan hybrid and remote workplace changes
Nearly every organisation made major changes to how work was done in response to COVID-19. For many, that meant remote work in the immediate response. With the pandemic on the path towards becoming endemic, how and where work is done has permanently changed for many with hybrid and remote work being favoured by employers for the cost saving nature of a dispersed workforce, and employees that favour a more flexible work environment.
The 2022 NAVEX survey benchmark revealed that, for organisations that still have employees working remotely, 22% do not plan to return to pre-COVID-19 work conditions. When asked the same question two years earlier in the height of the pandemic, 60% had the intent of returning to the pre-pandemic paradigm, it is clear the winds have shifted.
Despite the challenges of distributed workforces, hybrid and remote work appear to be promoting some unexpected opinions – nearly two-thirds (62%) of organisations whose employees continue to work remotely said the shift to work-from-home has been positive for their culture overall. The new workplace dynamic may also play a role in emboldening employees to speak up against ethical misconduct and wrongdoing.
Operational concerns are on the rise
As some organisations return to in-person work – whether hybrid or full-time – the priorities around that return shifted to include a greater focus on operational concerns and the welfare of employees.
The 2022 survey indicates workplace safety as the top concern for the second year in a row, with 50% of organisations ranking it as their priority. Survey data shows a shift in priorities compared to 2021, where safety was ranked as the top concern by 78% of organisations.
The majority of the change is a growing prioritisation of operational concerns, with 38% of respondents ranking operations as their priority for returning to the workplace in 2022, compared to 14% in 2021.
With these changing attitudes, board members and team executives are forced to change their strategies to fit a more remote and flexible workforce.
Level of compliance disruption due to COVID-19 is low
When COVID-19 emerged, compliance teams faced whether the related workplace shifts would make tasks like GDPR, whistleblowing investigations and case management a more significant challenge. However, the 2022 data indicates the pandemic is now minimally disruptive to most risk and compliance initiatives. After two years, workplace disruption seems to slowly return to the old ‘normal’ before COVID-19.
During the pandemic, the most disrupted category was third-party risk management. Data indicates 20% of respondents had either a “somewhat” or “very disruptive” impact on employees managing external vendors.
- Hybrid and remote work is here to stay and organisations are now more certain about the direction they’ll take going forward
- Due to the new remote system structures, many compliance operations – such as managing whistleblowing cases – must be rethought and approached with modernised processes
- The significant level of disruption, initially caused by the pandemic, is slowly returning to pre-covid ‘normal’ levels.
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