Almost overnight, many employers sent their teams home or implemented split shifts. Others dealt with supply chain disruptions or pivoted production to meet changing customer demands. They navigated this sea of change with little direction or knowledge of what was coming next.
As the country begins to emerge into a post-vaccine world, many employers are left unsure of what’s to come next and how to apply lessons learned over the past year. How do you determine when and how to bring employees back to the workplace? How do you meet changing employee expectations after a year of remote work? And even as the threat of the pandemic decreases, are cyber threats on the rise?
System Risk vs Systemic Uncertainty
Three experts from BOK Financial® shared how the company managed through the pandemic, balancing the need to protect employees with the need to provide vital financial services to clients. Their lessons learned during the pandemic will help employers of all sizes better navigate the next new normal.
Determine the goals for your enterprise as you build your response framework. For BOK Financial, those goals from the beginning of the pandemic were to:
Fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus—or any crisis—necessitate a data-centric approach to guiding how and when employees return to the workplace.
Develop plans based not only on employees’ work environment but also the criticality of their roles to your enterprise.
The same data that determined when employees needed to work from home can now guide how they can safely return. Continue using previously established indicators but layer in vaccination data—availability, percentage of population vaccinated and percentage of employees vaccinated.
A centralized emergency operations team can help guide your company’s response to an emergency situation.
Employee trust in the company’s response helps to increase compliance with practices on safeguards against erosion in morale.
Vaccinations are an important part of ending the pandemic and bringing employees back to the workplace.
Talk with leadership and employees about expectations and anxieties about returning to the workplace.
With more employees working virtually, home life and work life have converged and created new stresses.
Virtual interactions are likely going to continue well after the pandemic ends; make sure your employees are ready.
Business continuity efforts are typically focused on talent succession, however, the pandemic revealed the need to build depth in client-facing front-line roles.
Exposing employees to new departments and responsibilities not only helps ensure organizational resilience but can also increase employee retention.
Flexible work arrangements are center stage right now, but don’t discount the benefits of having teams back in the workplace.
The pandemic changed so many things about the workplace; new training and education may be needed to help ensure employees are adapting.
Uncertainty throughout the pandemic created an attractive operating environment for cybercriminals, with government stimulus programs as popular targets.
The most popular attack vector is currently phishing—fraudulent emails claiming to be from reputable companies that encourage recipients to share personal information including passwords or account numbers.
As employers harden their defenses, criminals have begun mounting indirect attacks, seeking to enter your network through a less-protected vendor relationship. Decrease your risk by carefully vetting vendors, asking:
Work from home is attractive to many employees but could mean additional risk to your network.
Efforts to protect business networks must shift to reflect the risks of remote access, ensure sensitive data has enhanced protection and engage employees as the front line against attacks.