Compliance & corona, a difficult combination

My neighbour is going through some hard times. At least, that is what I gathered from his loud telephone conversations, while a favourable wind was blowing his words in my direction from his balcony, with what I believed to be his CFO – for whom things at the office are not any easier either.

But the person who is to be envied least of all is the compliance officer. 

Wijnand Langen
Wijnand Langen Creative strategist

If he can be compared with the compliance officers I spoke to with our EthiQs team, he had just identified every data vulnerability in the organisation and trained all employees with an online AVG module. He had stopped all leaks and minimised document printing. The USB sticks had ended up in the wastepaper basket (securely destroyed and discarded in an environmentally way, I mean). He had everything covered.

Until corona hit and an impossible situation soon got out of hand. 

During the first days of the lockdown, all security measures carefully developed went by the board. Sensitive documents were on the kitchen table, printed and all. The VPN was so slow that quick copying to a USB stick was the only practicable solution.

Colleagues who used their sense of humour to boost morale, soon discovered various cheerful video chats. With this medium, the development of funny visual effects seems to be at the expense of basic security. Have you also had a strange visitor at your team meeting? 

What happened in the weeks after that, however, is encouraging. There are three developments:

  1. Many organisations quickly implemented a safe structure for working at home. Some solid solutions were set up with the help of various large suppliers, so that the ‘fun chat’ can be used again for its intended purpose.
  2. Compliance officers proactively work on supplementary directives, education and tools to ensure thorough compliance in the one-and-a-half-metre society as well.
  3. ust as quickly as compliance was shoved aside when the crisis started, we realised that we currently need compliance more than anything. We have to find creative solutions, but if we do not do this safely and securely we will get into even deeper trouble. The world is changing fast, and the operational risks are changing accordingly. De compliance officer is the pivot in controlling dynamic risks and a mainstay of crisis planning. 

More than ever, our customers are aware that they need a plan for the what-if scenario. Compliance is not a millstone around the neck but rather a valued partner. This is hopeful.

When the wind is favourable, I will tell my neighbour. 

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