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Compliance activities and the impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 presents a high degree of uncertainty for fully returning to the office in the immediate or longer-term future. In fact, according to a recent study by the University of Minnesota, the current pandemic is forecast to continue for another 18 months, with the second wave likely to peak in the USA over the Christmas / New Year’s period.

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Most businesses have now settled into working from home, where this is possible. Many companies are considering downsizing their office accommodation, as the productivity losses envisaged were not realised. In many cases, there have been productivity improvements. Therefore, there is a strong likelihood that working remotely will continue far beyond the lifespan of COVID-19.

Many businesses have delayed activities that are commonly conducted as routine practices. In heavily regulated sectors, many may have deferred compliance activities as they assumed that a full return to the office was imminent. A total return lays well over the horizon and may never happen altogether.

Highly volatile sectors are heavily regulated as they present safety concerns to their works and the community. If an incident were to occur, and fundamental safeguards were not compliant, would the regulators, boards, and perhaps the courts, waive action because staff were working from home and it was challenging to ensure that compliance activities were conducted? I think we all know the answer.

Delaying your compliance obligations and waiting for everyone to return to the office is fraught with danger. Delaying compliance activities could threaten businesses and operating licences, attract heavy penalties as well as void insurance policies.

Many services can be completed online, including desktop audits, emergency exercises, manual development, business continuity studies and training. Resilient Services has developed procedures that allow remote facilitation and meeting compliance obligations. Recently we completed a safety/emergency manual for a company’s operations in the Cooper Basin, which is situated in the top corner of South Australia and abuts the New South Wales and Queensland borders. We were able to complete the safety and emergency planning without setting foot onto the site, which was impossible during the COVID-19 restrictions. Hence, this client addressed their compliance needs and did so remotely. From our virtual office, we can consult anywhere in the world effectively.

The use of technology is efficient and cost-effective, allowing connection to subject matter experts and other team members, whether they are in the office or not. In fact, remote consulting could remove more than 30% of consulting costs, due to the removal of travel time, accommodation, the wasted time between meetings and lessen the customer requirement of time, use of meeting spaces etc.

Please reach out for a discussion of how we can facilitate remote compliance services for you.

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