FCA has looked at how the measures taken to adapt to working in the times of Covid-19 have affected conduct and culture. It notes that, for those that can work at home, there may be no return to the office for some significant time, and, indeed, that some firms may cut the size of their offices permanently. It says that, once firms had conquered the initial challenges of home working, they can now start to focus on the risks and opportunities the new style of working brings. One risk is that there may no longer be any focus on workplace culture.
On the human front, it notes that different individuals will have a very different experience of home working, largely dependent on their domestic and socioeconomic situation, while all individuals may work in firms badly affected by the crisis and will be fearing redundancy.
Looking at conduct, FCA notes the impossibility of checking that employees are not using forbidden devices or taking screenshots of confidential information when at home, and that the risk of “out of sight, out of mind” can lead to increased conduct risk as people feel unsupervised and therefore less accountable. So it is important to keep cultivating the culture, while appreciating that some changes may be welcome. Identity and teams remain important, and managers should not become disconnected from their teams.
FCA wants firms to continue acting with purpose, to show leadership with integrity, identify risks and opportunities, build and sustain psychological safety, continue to focus on diversity and inclusion, and look after the mental health and wellbeing of their employees. They can use insights from behavioural science and change the way in which feedback is exchanged. While changes need consideration, FCA believes the key is to think, plan and adapt. Firms that get it wrong run the risk of poor conduct, low staff morale and ultimately weak performance.