Amid the unprecedented and constantly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, working from home is just one of the new normals that we’re experiencing — and it means reinforcing a culture of integrity and compliance needs innovative strategies, too.
Recently, there have been murmurings in the media that working from home could become more prevalent, even beyond the pandemic. Employers are becoming aware of the advantages of staff working from home and will perhaps soon grant employees this new freedom in the wake of the pandemic.
This shows how a crisis situation like COVID-19 can give rise to new opportunities that can reshape the future of the working world and in which effective communication that promotes integrity becomes an even more important element as the workforce diversifies.
This unique situation poses many challenges: In addition to the working environment at home, which is new for many of us, motivation is needed to adapt and remain productive. Self-organization and time management skills become a priority as private life becomes blurred with professional life and everything around us feels uncertain.
Amid all these changes, certain topics should still be addressed in the home office. Information security and data protection have become an increasing concern for compliance professionals as hackers take advantage of the pandemic.
Integrity, respect and transparency remain important elements of daily work even if we are not physically in the office.
Stakeholder trust and company reputations are at stake in the era of COVID-19; perhaps even more than before. Consumers are watching the behavior and reactions of companies and observing how they are treating their staff and customers during the pandemic. Therefore although staff are working from the home office, it is important they uphold the company's integrity and compliance culture.
It's easy to feel really cut off in times of isolation and perhaps not see your own actions in the context of the big picture. The question of how to reach your employees and convey company values requires a different approach in exceptional situations – especially when there are so many new issues and increased concerns relating to the pandemic. Compliance does not stop when you are outside of the office and your colleagues don’t physically see you. However, the increasing pressure for targets to be reached and performance measures achieved is no substitute for setting compliance goals in line with your own values and those of the organization. A company has the task of supporting employees in ethical dilemmas, especially at this time when they are completely isolated.
Leadership can be observed on both a small and large scale because coronavirus is being experienced by everyone, not just specific employee profiles or functions. On a small scale, communication with staff through the various internal channels is an important, supportive measure to promote and maintain a sense of community. The current crisis can reinforce this as “we are all in the same boat.” This opens up new communication possibilities and reminds employees who they can turn to.
On a large scale, communication can also take more formal approach to key compliance issues. What about IT security in the home office? Does everyone know what to do in certain situations, and what factors are important to mitigate risks and protect company assets? Would it be helpful at this point for colleagues to refresh their knowledge?
Ask yourself, are there specific corporate values that could or even should be emphasized in this remote working situation and how would it be best to communicate this? There are many ways such messaging can be shared — through a personal email, an inspiring video message or an innovative eLearning course that communicates guidelines and rules to employees using real-life scenarios. In a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations can take advantage of eLearning techniques to start dialogues and prompt discussion on new topics such as stress management and emotional well-being.
In these uncertain times, introducing such communication measures provides support and demonstrates trust, compassion and openness as well as promoting a positive corporate compliance culture. At the same time, it offers employees optimal support as they strive to achieve organizational goals while alleviating pressure by promoting ethical behavior and an enhanced compliance culture.
Likewise, as organizations look to transition from a work-from-home period to back-to-the-office, and recommended office staffing occupancy limits may fragment how and when teams are brought together, this may be an opportune time to apply your own Code of Conduct in a concrete way and put it into context within a changing working environment.
At SAI Global, our goal is to help organizations implement a value-based Code of Conduct to build an ethical culture that is in line with company principles. Strengthening compliance beyond the office walls and giving your team the security and confidence to successfully navigate the pandemic through purpose-driven online learning is one of many ways to ensure business resilience.
Adapted from an article that originally appeared in Compliance Manager Magazin, "Compliance-Kultur im Home Office" (German).
Find free resources such as eLearning courses and videos, webinars and articles on addressing ethics & compliance topics amid COVID-19 that will be helpful for promoting a positive compliance culture through the pandemic and beyond. Additional risk management resources are also available in our Pandemic Information Center.
Learn more about our Ethics and Compliance Learning capabilities.
Or, contact us to see how SAI Global has helped organizations like yours.