Q: How can companies reduce the conduct risks around remote working?
A: While the technological revolution in the workplace has made the idea of remote working a reality for many, the complex governance and control requirements for businesses regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority have meant financial services has traditionally been slow to adopt this growing trend.
But cue the Covid-19 crisis and, all of a sudden, this new way of working has been imposed on us all. And with some companies already eyeing up the potential cost savings of a permanent shift from their plush headquarters to smaller satellite bases, this could signal the end of office life as we know it.
But why is it that some businesses seem to thrive working remotely, while others struggle? In my experience, it almost always comes down to culture.
There is no getting away from the impact that remote working has on conduct risk management and the broader control environment.
Without the support systems they normally find in the office, it is all too easy for employees to start feeling disconnected and demotivated.
On top of this, without being able to physically see what employees are up to, how can managers spot and act on non-compliance?
A healthy culture makes these risks either easier to manage from afar, or less of a threat in the first place.
So, what does a healthy culture actually look like?
A clearly defined purpose
Behavioural science has taught us that people are much more engaged and motivated to do the right thing when we can connect the task at hand to a wider vision or purpose.
A purposeful culture is also one in which individuals feel safe to speak up if they think something’s not right. Now is the time to outline and document your purpose, goals and the organisational values that support them.
When your workforce is dispersed, how can you best communicate that purpose to create a sense of belonging?
Pre-lockdown, your employees would have likely seen and interacted with senior leaders around the office on a daily basis.
And if you are wanting to set a good example of conduct and unite your staff behind your cause, then there’s no real replacement for personal interactions.
Consider how they can be done virtually instead.
Most companies are a product of their leadership and general governance arrangements.
In an effort to drive more accountability, and therefore more effective governance, the FCA introduced the Senior Managers and Certification Regime across the industry.
To meet requirements while working from home, a robust governance structure is more important than ever.
You will need the highest quality management information, from a diverse range of sources, so you can react quickly and proportionately to any emerging conduct issues.