KMPG Board Insights Podcast: Flexible Work as Board-Level Risk and Governance Issue

I’m excited to share with you highlights from my recent KMPG Board Insights podcast conversation with host Stephen L Brown, Senior Advisor, KPMG Board Leadership Center. This new podcast explores the emerging issues and pressing challenges facing boards of directors today. (Transcript here)

During the episode, we discussed the role that boards (and other corporate leaders) must play in strategic work flexibility and why that oversight, especially as it relates to operational resilience, is so critical right now.

Many organizations were not prepared for the overnight shift to flexible and remote work when the pandemic hit. And, truth be told, that was a risk issue hopefully boards and leaders have started to understand. Leaders and organizations failed to appreciate the strategic significance of culture-based work flexibility and as such, missed out on important benefits related to disaster preparedness, but also talent management, increased productivity, innovation, collaboration, and well-being.

But I’m optimistic. I think the pandemic has broken through that inertia now that leaders have seen in stark relief the power of flexible and remote work as a business continuity strategy. It’s raised the awareness that we can do a lot of the things we really didn’t think we could in a remote and flexible way.

Listen as I share questions board members and leaders need to ask to operationalize flexibility and prepare for what’s ahead with the Future of Work. Any path forward will be cross-functional including of course HR, but equally important IT, real estate, facilities, and legal. Managers and employees across teams and across organizations will share leadership and work together to determine what we need to do and how, when, and where we do it best.

Interestingly, back in 2018, I first raised the need for boards, directors, and other corporate leaders to view, understand, and support work flexibility as a strategic imperative. Check out my interview with the former editor of Directors & Boards magazine that followed the publication of my article, Boards Can’t Ignore the Lure of the Flexible Workplace.”

There’s reason to hope that board-level leaders will do more than just seize the work flexibility “moment” underway. They will support and encourage the fundamental reimagination of work for what’s next, as we all must.  A recent study conducted by the National Association of Corporate Directors that found “The changing nature of work is viewed as a top post-crisis recovery issue for organizations” indicates they may finally understand.