For more than a year, businesses in virtually every sector have scrambled to keep up with the uncertain and rapidly evolving economic landscape under the pandemic. Now, with many restrictions being lifted, many organizations are hoping for a return to business as usual. But the transition out of lockdown doesn’t mean we can stop worrying about risk mitigation. In fact, the post-COVID world poses a whole new set of risks that organizations will need to address in the coming months.
Follow along as we take a deep dive into three strategies companies can adopt to mitigate risk in 2021, from reducing technology exposures to re-evaluating risk portfolios for the post-COVID economy.
3 strategies to reduce risk in 2021
Maintain COVID-19 safety protocols
The U.S. recently reached a milestone for COVID-19 vaccinations, with 50% of the population having received at least one shot, and it can feel tempting to relax our safety standards. But we aren’t out of the woods yet. Scientists still aren’t clear how the novel coronavirus will continue to impact daily life in the months, and years, to come.
Because of this, companies invested in reducing COVID-related risk should maintain cleaning protocols and other risk-mitigation strategies implemented during the pandemic. Many companies are choosing to retain a digital-first model to help keep employees and customers safe. Other policies, like encouraging employees to stay home when they feel sick and continuing to provide PPE can also help reduce risk. Plus, these protocols can have other benefits. The CDC reported that during the pandemic, the U.S. experienced historically low levels of flu transmission — due in large part to masks, social distancing, and use of disinfectants. Maintaining a clean workspace means fewer sick days and a healthier workforce, overall.
Assess potential technology exposures
During the transition to a digital-first workforce in March 2020, many companies made a quick pivot to new technologies that would support business continuity. Because of the frenzied nature of this transition, however, some companies may find themselves at increased risk for technology exposures. McKinsey reports that many chief security officers have found themselves straining their virtual private networks (VPNs) and patching legacy systems to protect against increasing cybersecurity attacks. Since the pandemic began, targeted email attacks (often called spear-phishing) are at seven times their usual levels—and that’s just one example of ballooning security threats under COVID-19.
Companies that implemented band-aid solutions back in March 2020 should now revisit their solutions and consider secure, long-term technologies to support their hybrid workforce. Regardless of your approach, every business can benefit from assessing technology risks, looking for security gaps, and ensuring that due diligence has been taken to protect the company from costly security breaches.
Re-evaluate risk-management strategies
No matter your industry, chances are that COVID-19 has changed your risk portfolio. Perhaps your company incurred unexpected debt during the pandemic. Maybe the market for your product shifted––for better or worse—or supply-chain changes impacted your bottom line. According to Deloitte, even traditionally less-volatile investments, like real estate, have experienced significant swings because of COVID-19, with hospitality- and entertainment-related real estate on the decline and an increased demand for telecommunications and data centers.
To ensure that your current coverage reflects your new risk portfolio, make a time to connect with your insurance carrier and broker to assess new risks and how to manage them. For example, you may have additional coverage needs as your company retrains and upskills employees, addresses changes in your product line, protects itself against shifts in the supply chain, and more.
Preparing for the Next Normal
Organizations in 2021 are looking ahead to a future with a COVID-19 vaccine, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for a future without COVID-19. Even if the vaccine significantly reduces the impact of the virus, the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we do business. To prepare for the “next normal,” business leaders should take steps to help reduce risk, protect employees, and ensure business continuity—because if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Do you want to learn more about the top risk trends impacting the business landscape in 2021? Read our series on risk and the post-COVID economy.
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