AMCHAM T&T’s Pre-HSSE Conference Meeting: The Challenges of Hybrid Work to Traditional Organizational Risk Management
October 6th, 2022
This event was hosted by AMCHAM T&T to explore the risks and strategies to mitigate these problems and ensure a more secure, healthy work-life balance in a hybrid environment.
Opening remarks from AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie and speakers’ presentations.
It is my pleasure to welcome you to today’s meeting on this very important and relevant topic facing all leaders across every industry today: The Challenges of Hybrid Work To Traditional Organisational Risk Management.
Today we are hosting this session as one of our Pre-HSSE Conference Meetings in the lead-up to our 26th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition from November 1st to November 3rd at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.
As we transition into what we hope is a post-pandemic world, we have seen an increase in the organisational risks to the traditional models. There has also been a significant boost in digitalisation in the corporate environment. And we have also witnessed an increase in productivity with employees working from home or other locations. This has had many positive impacts on organisations, as employees have reported feeling less stressed getting to work – _having avoided long hours of traffic – _and feeling more comfortable working in a familiar, safe, and convenient environment.
Looking ahead, we see the future will continue along this trajectory – we will not return to the ‘normal of 2019 and early 2020’. Life has changed, and the world of work is changing. The Prime Minister is probably correct in outlining the current situation in the Public Sector. Many companies in the private sector, including AMCHAM T&T, have already embraced flexi-workplace policies.
As we think about the society that we want to create, the systems we want to implement to increase productivity and even in the context of ongoing negotiations, there is probably an opportunity to explore opportunities for remote work for some types of jobs in the Public Sector. The processes and systems that would enable remote work in the public sector, would also likely improve the ease with which citizens interact with the state.
So, now that the economy becomes increasingly digital, we must also recognize that the growing cyber threat is also outpacing most companies’ ability to manage operations effectively. Today, all types of data being held and stored by companies – employees’ personal information, corporate data, customer information, intellectual property, and key infrastructure – is at risk.
Also, even as much as we have experienced an increase in productivity, the unprecedented changes caused by the pandemic have taken their toll on all of us. The combination of being separated for long periods and losing our loved ones and our livelihoods has had a major impact on our mental health.
This is and continues to be a difficult time for employees, as well as employers who seek to create an environment where their employees feel safe. But how do we access what is going on with our employees when they are working remotely? Can we read non-verbal queues from the little image that comes across our screen? Is it enough for us as employers to wait for employees to reach out with a problem?
Many times, we believe that the well-being of our staff is the responsibility of the HR department – but with rotational work, when HR is not there today – are all of us equipped to help an employee who is at work dealing with a mental health issue?
I look forward to the presentations today which would help us as employers and employees learn some strategies that we can employ – not only at our physical work buildings but also at home – the other place where we work.
Work-life balance – how do you achieve this when work from home has resulted in a blurring of the lines between work and home time and when the office calls are coming in later or earlier? How do we manage this when you are now living where you work? These are important questions that today’s leaders must answer as we adjust to this new world of work.
And as we deal with cyber threats and mental health, we must also balance this with the reality that the working spaces at home may not be the most conducive for work – from the lack of ergonomics to other hazards. How do we deal with a home office or another location that may contain physical and even environmental hazards?
And of course, as we look at all of these things, we should always understand our role as employers. We have a legal obligation, and Catherine would speak to that later today, but I want to advocate something that is a mantra at AMCHAM T&T – we do not aim to do the bare minimum for our employees and stakeholders – we aim to follow the best practices as an investment in our employee’s physical and mental well-being – a happy employee is a productive employee. Our workers spend so much of their waking hours doing work for the company – it is our duty to ensure that we make the time enjoyable – even if sometimes the work may not be.
The session today is significant, it is one of our Pre-Conference sessions which are designed to give you a sneak peek into the Conference. The Conference will be held from November 01st to 03rd 2022 and would feature over 40 speakers. I ask that you encourage your supervisors and members of your team to attend. The Safety of our teams is paramount – and I challenge each of you to do as much as you can to ensure that health and safety is at the forefront of your organisation. Of course, one way to visibly demonstrate that is to support the Conference which seeks to highlight the relevant industry information. But I am also advocating that the strategies identified here be something that you make part of your company’s culture, regardless of where the work is being conducted. In the end, our major goal is to protect our employees. I hope to see a lot more of this in a post-pandemic era!