Adapting to the new risks of a post-COVID-19 Australia

10 July 2020

In recent weeks, talk of a ‘new normal’ has been everywhere - from employees working from home to new digital services and increased business flexibility. But with a new reality comes a new type of risk, and organisational leaders must be aware of such risks in a changed operating environment.

National Leader, Risk Advisory Marita Corbett, and National Leader Cyber Security, Leon Fouche, recently spoke on this subject for our Rethink Risk audio series.

So what points did they cover?

Changing risk profiles

Businesses across Australia are seeing changing risk profiles in key areas. This can and likely will impact the ongoing suitability and relevance of some of the assumptions made in their business plans and strategies.

Changes to the supply chain

A clear example of this is the reliability of the supply chain. Previous ‘sure things’ are suddenly in danger of collapse, so now leaders must ask if their supply chain arrangements can be restructured to reduce risk in that area. And that’s not just to stave off financial hardship, but also to seize opportunities - now is a chance for many organisations to make strategic acquisitions that might have otherwise never have been feasible.

Looking to health and safety

Another area we’re seeing strong attention is health and safety. Organisations have done well implementing immediate control measures to manage the risks associated with COVID-19, but now leaders are seeing new or changed risks as some restrictions ease.

Unfortunately, things like customer aggression are becoming more prominent, staff are more careful when it comes to work-related travel and client meetings, there are higher work demands in some areas, and individuals are working in extraordinary circumstances - for example, in isolated environments.

Employers must prepare now not just for a longer-term safe environment in their workplace (wherever it may be), but they must also be ready to convert as fast as needed to revert back to COVID-19 restrictions at short notice.

A higher risk of fraud or corruption

A third standout area we’re seeing is the increased exposure some companies are witnessing to fraud and corruption. Both individuals and businesses may be under significant new financial pressures due to their changed circumstances, which may translate to uncharacteristic behaviours. In the most extreme cases, they may take higher risks leading to internal fraud, tax evasion, and other serious crimes.

A perfect storm for cybercriminals

Disruption is the perfect storm for cybercriminals. We’re seeing that many bad actors are starting to recognise that this new world of working remotely presents other opportunities to target organisations. With more reliance on email, wider collaboration via digital platforms, video conferencing and file sharing over the internet, some organisations have become easy targets.

Unfortunately, as so many IT teams are also working remotely, there has been some delay in the ability of many organisations to respond to these attacks in a timely fashion. Therefore, it’s more important than ever for leaders to identify their cyber risks, educate employees and formulate good, tested cyber-response plans.

Time to review your risk appetite

What much of our discussion so far boils down to is a need to review your risk appetite and ensure it’s fit for the modern world. With risks changing, but the economy remaining highly uncertain, you may need to consider taking on less risk. Reconsider or reset your risk appetite, and communicate that throughout the business, so that your organisation can match staff and customer expectations with sound policy that accommodates the new way of working without compromising safety.

Need Help?

If you need help to Rethink your future business plans, our BDO experts are available to help you define ‘what’s next’.

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