I was asked very recently what the future of internal audit look like, and pondering on this it is clear we are all facing the same risks as everyone - layoffs / furlough; reduced income and budgets; re-prioritisation of business activities; realignment of strategy and business plans. Risks remain, and if there continues to be risks then there will be actions to control or minimise risks - a very simple view but a pertinent one - there will always be a need for independent objective assurance. Corporate governance requirements and expectations have not changed. If you're in a regulated sector compliance requirements have not changed - there might be flexibility in reporting, but not in expectations around standards of behaviour. Internal audit should not be an option, it is a necessity. However, the challenge for the profession is to keep relevant. So it needs to up its own game.
So if you're like me you're thinking about culture. In my opinion this is the end game for Internal Audit. Culture is about ways of working, so there are some important questions that internal auditors should be considering:
Mental health, wellbeing and compassion are at the top of my list - if you employ staff then you should be thinking about the same. How are you supporting your workforce?
Will the act of furloughing staff create distrust between the employee and employer? What is the long term impact around this and how will you keep in touch with your employees during this time?
What is the quality of your communication? Are you sympathetic, engaging in your tone, personable? Or is your communication clinical and communicating only updated policies, what should or should not happen?
What solutions do your managers need to support them so they can lead their teams effectively? All people are not comfortable being on zoom - focusing on how they look online rather than the discussion at hand.
How are you defining productivity right now? Is it the same as when you were in the office or has it changed because there are family members to look after or more pronounced mental health challenges?
And really practical - how are you managing and responding to the increase in cyber attacks - people working from home might reveal how exposed they are to cyber vulnerabilities because they are not set up in the same way as you are at work - many people are likely working from their kitchen table rather than an office environment set up at home
do your insurance arrangements extend to working from home or do you expect our workforce to make arrangements with their insurance providers?
For how long can we sustain how we are working right now?
I believe that the workplace environment will never be the same again:
Solutions to adapt to the environment right now are opportunities to work in a different way for the future - many leaders are thinking about the long term implications for how we work going forward.
Do our managers need new skill sets to enable a greater level of remote working, remote support, remote management and supervision?
What technology do we need to ensure that we are fit for the future? and
What learning can we take from now, the decisions made in the recent past and in the future?
What are your insights?