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Three Risk Management Trends Emerging From the Pandemic Lockdown

Posted by Catherine Cyphus May 13, 2020

The societal and work adaptations made since the lockdown on 23 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging, including those that accelerated digital transformations and medical innovations. The question now facing organisations and individuals is: are you ready for what comes next?

The answer is not simple, and crosses into many areas. But there are three notable risk management trends that companies should prepare for as they emerge from the pandemic lockdown.

1 Resilience Ready

The COVID-19 crisis has shone a revelatory light on resilience, and we expect to see significant shifts in how organisations approach it. Many now have an opportunity to overcome steep learning curves, harness lessons learned, and embed resilience into their recovery and long-term business strategies. 

For example, organisations likely will revise how they identify, rank, and protect critical processes. Many will review their assumptions, stress test plans more regularly, and increase the use of risk quantification and modelling in planning. 

Scenario modelling in particular will allow organisations to make short- and long-term decisions more confidently while optimising recovery. It also lets organisations redefine the assumptions underlying their plans, make plans more usable for all eventualities, and better harness resilience built during the pandemic.

2 Workforce Ready

The pandemic has fundamentally altered methods of working, driven in part by government policy that forced organisations to implement alternative working arrangements. One result has been the creation of compliance grey areas. There also have been impacts on employee morale and wellbeing – resulting in unforeseen operational risk.

Even after this pandemic ends, there will likely be an increase in working from home, whether full-time or in staggered shifts. There also will likely be greater reliance on technologies and other interventions that facilitate remote working and contactless transactions.

One challenge for employers will be to maintain the same level of health and safety duty of care for home workers as they maintain for staff working on location. Organisations must plan to support their employees in their work environments as they return to work, and continue to comply with statutory duties in a rapidly changing environment.

3 Future Ready

When organisations return to "business as usual", they may be reluctant to reverse changes made during the crisis, particularly rapid workforce decentralisation and digital business model transformation. Exceptions or enhancements made to standard work practices during the crisis should be reconsidered with a view to long-term strategy and resilience.

For example, the shift in working practices has highlighted the need for revised technical cybersecurity and renewed staff training to respond to the increased reliance on remote working infrastructure. Longer term, it will be important for organisations to evaluate how their current remote arrangements can serve their future resilience – something to consider throughout the recovery phase.

What Next?

Organisations will need to reconsider and prioritise their risk and resilience arrangements based on the updated threat landscape and new working patterns. Customer and workforce behavioural shifts and increased cyber risk exposures will require a renewed focus on staff education, taking into account operational changes and a greater reliance on remote working and digital infrastructures. Building preparedness into your business now will not only help your organisation optimise recovery but be more resilient in the face of future disruptions.

Catherine Cyphus

Vice President, Risk Consulting Practice, Client Advisory Services