Last updated on August 3rd, 2022 at 12:14 pm.

How to manage compliance risks in the hybrid work era? In the last couple of years, organizations across the globe have switched to hybrid and remote work arrangements. While many businesses did not bat an eyelid during the changeover, companies in regulated industries are now working to guarantee that their remote work policies comply with industry requirements.

As remote work continues to grow, organizations in regulated industries need to construct a solid framework to manage compliance.

Let’s discuss risk management in the increasingly common hybrid work style and go over five crucial topics that compliance professionals should examine in the next year.

Hybrid isn’t going away…

We’re slowly seeing a lot more companies returning to the office. However, many organizations have realized that working from home two or three days a week instead of commuting five days a week still seems to be more effective. It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay.

While hybrid and remote work environments were formerly considered an uncommon organizational bonus, they are now an anticipated feature of many job descriptions. It’s a key recruiting and retention tool that allows employees to be more flexible.

…and neither is compliance

As more companies adopt hybrid and remote work, compliance professionals will need to update their compliance programs to reflect these new work arrangements.

The consequences of non-compliance are severe — and, in many cases, more expensive than the cost of compliance. Avoiding legal costs, financial penalties, and reputational damage should be enough to convince organizations to restructure their compliance programs. 

Increasingly, companies recognize that compliance programs should focus on managing compliance risk. Today, compliance departments must help organizations mitigate risks, proactively address issues, and leverage compliance as a strategic advantage.

It’s crucial for compliance professionals to work closely with HR, legal, and IT departments to design effective compliance programs.

How to manage compliance risks in the hybrid work era?

While many compliance experts dread the prospect of managing a hybrid or remote workforce, many of the same security processes that work well in the office also function well at home.

Compliance risk management in the hybrid work style doesn’t differ dramatically from compliance risk management in onsite offices. However, the nature of remote work does make compliance officers’ jobs harder.

It’s, therefore, more important than ever for organizations to have a well-defined, comprehensive compliance program.

A solid compliance risk management program starts with a comprehensive, company-wide policy. While traditional policies are often focused on financial controls, compliance policies need to cover both financial and compliance controls.

As organizations move to hybrid and remote work, it’s especially important to remember that employees’ actions outside of work are just as important as those inside the office.

Here are a few compliance issues that organizations must consider in hybrid and remote work environments.

Create clear communication policies and stick to them

Companies must have clear communication strategies to ensure that staff understands how to interact both internally and externally.

Often, organizations promote clear communications through employee handbooks. However, since employees are often remote, organizations must proactively communicate with employees to make sure they’re aware of policies, regulations, and best practices.

In the event that sensitive information is leaked, companies must be able to demonstrate that employees were made aware of policies and trained on proper procedures.

In addition, compliance teams must guarantee that monitoring technology can support internal regulations.

Ensure employees understand company expectations

In a hybrid work environment, it’s especially important that employees understand what is expected of them. 

Policies should be focused on protecting sensitive data and adhering to compliance regulations. In addition, employees need to understand the company’s expectations when it comes to the use of communication channels.

Many companies provide employees with company-approved communication tools, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams. However, these tools are often misused, with employees using non-approved communication apps instead.  

Companies should establish clear company-approved communication policies and ensure that employees understand how to use them.

Capture communication from all levels of the company

Companies often capture the communication between employees and clients, but often fail to capture the communication between employees and coworkers.

However, these internal communications often contain sensitive information that compliance officers need to capture.

Companies should proactively capture the communication between employees, using cloud archiving software to capture sensitive information.

Employees communicate using email, SMS text messages, and encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp. To capture and store the massive volume of communication traffic, businesses must have a clear archiving policy and the right tools to capture the necessary information.

Continuously work on employee training

Organizations should allocate resources to build an ongoing training program. Employees in the hybrid age often work remotely, meaning that it’s difficult to maintain in-person training sessions. 

However, new communication technologies make it possible to deliver effective training remotely.  Organizations should make training a priority, and develop online training modules.

Companies should appoint dedicated training managers to oversee company-wide training and ensure that HR and legal departments work together to ensure that these policies remain updated and relevant.

Employee training remains the most effective method for addressing cybersecurity as employees migrate away from secure office networks and onto unsecured home networks with inadequate Wi-Fi security authentication.

Take control of employee devices

As organizations move to remote work, controlling employees’ devices becomes even more important.

Employees often work remotely using personal devices, exposing the company to additional cybersecurity risks.

It’s crucial that organizations have a clear understanding of what employees’ devices are accessing, and that employees only have access to company-approved applications. 

Organizations should implement clear policies regarding access control. When employees leave the company, organizations should immediately revoke access to all company data.  

Conclusion

Seems now you know how to manage compliance risks in the hybrid work era? The hybrid work era is here, and compliance officers must adjust to this new reality.

The compliance dynamic is changing, and compliance officers must help organizations mitigate compliance risks.

Compliance officers must work closely with HR, legal, and IT departments to design effective compliance programs. They must support remote employees, providing them with clear policies, appropriate training, and appropriate technology.

Employees will continue to be the strongest line of defense against information leaks, as they have been in the past.

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