Organizations have been forced to adopt new business strategies to accommodate the considerable operational environment changes in business operations. The new normal and resulting changes in the workplace (e.g., reduced workspace capacity, increased telecommuting) are the catalysts for the shift. While companies have successfully managed the transition to a remote workforce, they may not have considered the impact of transition on to their risk and control profile.
With employees either telecommuting or at satellite offices, a distributed workforce could present significant and persistent risks on maintaining an effective and functioning operational control environment. Control-centric business communication, deliverables, and control performer/reviewer roles often depend on frequent communication and/or co-location. In addition, a distributed workforce presents employees with more opportunities to circumvent and bypass controls as existing processes and tools were designed for a different operating environment.
Organizations will need to strengthen their internal control frameworks to face the specific challenges of a distributed workforce, ensuring that despite physical separation, functions can communicate, perform operational duties and continue to mitigate operational risks. Firms must be prepared for the new challenges of maintaining a robust control environment in a remote setting.
Comprehensive employee training will be a valuable tool in preparing employees for a shift in their control-focused responsibilities and for the potential changes to their business environment. Firms should take this opportunity to build the foundation for their next-generation controls framework, which will evaluate the evolving risk and control environments, increased risk velocity, disrupted workforce, and further operations that will shift with the new working paradigms.