Business owners may be forced to revamp their compliance programs in the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. While compliance programs are designed to provide safeguards for businesses, those safeguards may not be practical during the current climate of the business world. Companies may need to consider adjusting their current compliance programs to one that better suits the work environment due to COVID-19 and the evolving guidelines associated with the pandemic.
One of the main concerns with compliance programs is how effectively they can be applied to telework. During the transition to telework or hybrid between off-site and on-site work, the areas which have been most impacted are: surveillance, record keeping, and easy access to data and sensitive information. Business owners should consider changing certain systems:
- Focus on increasing security measures: Business owners can utilize lockdown browsers for their employees who are working from home. Lockdown browsers are an easy way for business owners to ensure that sensitive and confidential information are not compromised.
- Update policies that are not conducive to the new work environment
- Continue to educate employees on business policies and procedures: Consider using routine training videos or newsletters to ensure that employees are familiar with the current compliance program
- Perform frequent audits: Business owners should consider performing frequent and non-formal internal audits to assess any potential risks. Internal audits allow business owners to escalate incidents of misconduct and non-compliance to senior management or board of directors
- Increase awareness about the code of conduct and expectations of the company.
It is certain that COVID-19 will create more difficulties for corporate compliance going forward. The risk of fraud and misconduct are more prevalent due to non-traditional working conditions. Companies should place importance on preventative measures rather than waiting for an incident of misconduct or abuse to occur. Due diligence and communication are the most effective tools to ensure that businesses are protected from non-compliant behavior. Failure to adhere to guidelines may cause businesses to be exposed to litigation, fines, and public scrutiny.
Any newly documented policy should place emphasis on the changes made since the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also imperative that business owners keep track of legislation, state guidelines and CDC recommendations while considering changes to their current compliance program. The goal is to mitigate risks and uphold company standards while still following state and local guidelines for COVID-19. Thorough and periodic training on company policies is necessary for directors and employees.
A change in corporate compliance requires commitment from senior management as an example to employees to enforce the importance of commitment to the company’s overall goal of preventing misconduct and abuse during this time. Now is a great time to consider reevaluating your current compliance program and readjusting to ensure post-pandemic enhancement.