In 2021, the ongoing health crisis will continue to challenge organisations to adapt their models and employment practices, to enable employees to shift between home and office with greater fluidity while maintaining productivity and relationships with customers and suppliers says Ian Fantozzi, Chief Operating Officer, Beazley.
The move from office blocks to makeshift home offices has taken investment in technology, IT platforms and security, and new ways to manage supply chains and distribution. Organisations have transformed business models amid uncertainty over how long the impact of the pandemic and the recession will last. With the approval and early roll out of COVID-19 vaccines, the uncertainty is now laced with some optimism.
Many organisations are contemplating the extent to which this will usher in a return to pre-pandemic normality, and how to combine the best of this with newer practices and greater use of digital technology.
Hybrid models by which employees combine remote working with organising their time at the office for more collaborative, team-based tasks are being adopted by many businesses and are expected to outlast the pandemic. This means decisions to be taken over building leases, additional health and safety measures to protect employees and visitors, employee benefits and employment contracts, recruitment and IT security.
Employers’ responsibilities for supporting the mental health and wellness of staff have also come into sharper focus as a result of the pandemic. As well as the direct impact of the virus, many more people are dealing with additional caring responsibilities, stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can also take a toll on productivity as well as wellbeing.
As and when it becomes viable for more places of work to open up, employers will need to manage the process carefully, mindful of individuals’ own circumstances, tolerance for risk, preferences and safety, as well as the needs of the business.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses of all sizes is cyber security and the shift to remote working has increased the risk of both human error and malicious attacks causing financial, reputational and operational issues. Remote desktop gateways, used to provide remote access to computers and networks, are a common route in for hackers trying to access systems and steal information or restrict user access and extort funds to reinstate it.
Ransomware, currently the greatest cyber threat to businesses, is expected to continue growing in complexity and severity during 2021 and it is vital for businesses to keep all cyber risk management, security measures and employee training up to date.
Tips on best practice for prevention and response to ransomware: https://www.beazley.com/documents/TMB/Insights/Beazley-BBR-ransomware-best-practices.pdf