With the overall decline in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases globally and the reduction in severity of outcomes, restrictions on travel have now begun to ease across the world. This has led to organisations attempting to reinfuse a sense of normalcy in their operations, be it returning to office or restarting business travel.
However, returning to work and travel should not be reckless and it is as much an individual responsibility as the organisations’, to ensure that everyone is protected and kept safe.
Organisations are facing a dual challenge on the health front. Along with the physical aspects of COVID-19 safety, the pandemic has significantly contributed to a mental health crisis. Many organisations expect mental health to cause a significant decrease in productivity in 2023.
The need for increased investment comes as organisations expect to face increased risks in 2022. Organisations anticipate risks to increase or stay the same next year. In particular, decision makers responsible for business travel and international assignees expect risk levels to increase or stay the same as in 2022.
Domestic and international air travel is equally fraught with risks and apart from keeping abreast of the latest departure and arrival protocols related to COVID, it is essential that travelers continue to follow established protocols. The threat to employee health and safety goes beyond COVID-19 with mental health being a clear and present concern. Organisations who prepare for current and emerging health & wellness challenges are the ones that will build and maintain a resilient workforce and continue to be sustainable. Investing in both emotional health and physical wellness support will be essential for employee retention. This will also help to avoid a vicious cycle of productivity issues.
While the pandemic tops the lists of concerns, other perennial security risks are expected to cause disruption. With concern growing over climate change, it is predicted that natural disasters including extreme weather would be disruptive in the coming years. This is closely followed by travel concerns and security threats and civil unrest.
Increasing socio-economic imbalances driven by the pandemic are likely to reverberate in amplified ramifications for risks of all nature in 2022 – ranging from conventional to cyber crime, issues driven by geo-political nuances including civil and social unrest as well as terrorism.
Organisations will need to institute innovations focused on the sanctity of information – sourcing and dissemination as the persisting fluid environment creates and incumbent need for consistent flow of credible intelligence, assessment, and advisories. This in addition to a constant evolution of crisis management and mitigation controls would be key to navigating the complexities that are likely to ensue in the coming year.
The pandemic may seem to have entered a seemingly less severe phase, but organisations would do well to remain vigilant. Variants can emerge at any time and threaten work activities once again. Watchfulness, combined with appropriate and timely action will ensure workforce resilience and thereby, business sustainability.
In response, organisations must identify internal and external crisis management blind spots and act now to make effective decisions and strengthen their resilience. They must keep travelling staff, as well as domestic workforces, reliably informed with objective, forward-leaning location specific health and security information. Staying on top of regulatory changes will also be critical, making sure that they have the right processes in place.
BY: International SOS – the world’s leading health and security services group