In the world of product compliance, sudden changes to regulations are fairly standard. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) frequently announces new additions to its Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) list. California makes major changes to its Prop 65 list. Your customer adds new sets of requirements that you were not anticipating. These changes are happening all the time and are surprising, but not unexpected.
Now, with the coronavirus — an unprecedented, unexpected and sudden change — many of us are sitting alone in newly constructed home offices wondering: How can I effectively upkeep my compliance program and tasks from home? How can I maintain my product compliance for global markets? How can I sustain this extended quarantine with a remote team?
For many, remote work is a huge shift from a traditional office setting. However, in our modern world, equipped with advanced and connecting technology, many of us can — and many full-time remote workers already do — work from home with more benefits than struggles. From greater flexibility, increased productivity and improved contentedness, remote work may not be the future of your company but it is a period you and your fellow employees can and should be taking advantage of to its greatest potential.
While this may be a major transformational period for your business — it is also an opportunity to review your regulatory compliance program to assess your greatest strengths, uncover any weaknesses, and commit to developing deeper expertise and robust compliance capabilities no matter where your business demands you work.
Embrace Disruption to Your “This is How It’s Always Been” Processes
The coronavirus outbreak has forced a “new normal” upon us all for the foreseeable future. Business processes have been disrupted overnight, but, even if we enter into a major economic downturn, compliance must continue. Regulations and customer requirements will never become optional.
Most of the companies who have made the greatest economic gains over the past decade spoke about “disruption” often during their growth — so much so that it has become cliché. Yet, we are now living in a period of disruption, which is unfolding before our eyes. As it takes shape, some of us are noticing that it’s starting to resemble opportunity.
Although the current situation is challenging, companies who manage this well during its unknown duration will find themselves coming out ahead of their competitors — with better systems in place that can withstand other future business challenges.
Review your compliance program and ask your management and compliance teams hard questions:
- Do we have an on-staff expert who can address our customers’ compliance needs?
- Is our compliance program proactive or reactive?
- Is our current process feasible from a remote setting?
- What technology can we implement to ensure compliancy?
- Does hiring an outside consultant to support us — while we focus on what we do best — make the most business sense?
Complacency is an easy trap to fall into. In the past you may have been operating on a quick-and-fast compliance program or with barebones technology and have made do. In today’s world, you are faced with situations that demand more robust preparations.
Equip Your Teams With Technological Solutions
During the 1930’s Great Depression, as advancements in technology started to uptick, economist John Maynard Keynes began theorizing that technological progress would allow for a future of 15-hour workweeks, with people awash in leisure and boredom by 2030 as machines and tools ran our world for us.
Technology has not, for the majority of us, removed our need to work. It has certainly shifted how we do our work. The occasional technical issues aside, technology has revolutionized our work — enabling us to be productive no matter where we are or how wide-reaching the distribution of our organization and customers. It increases collaboration. It enhances efficiency and accuracy. If rigorous enough, it can inform the team with any new updates or changes.
And in the time of coronavirus and beyond, it can do this for your compliance program too. When reviewing which specific technology that could support your compliance program, consider:
- Does the technology allow for real-time updates?
- Does the tool live on the cloud so all compliance program stakeholders have access to the latest version always?
- Does it stand powerfully on its own to reflect comprehensive regulations and updates, and to allow your compliance team to answer these? More technology most often does not equal more productivity or efficiency.
- Is its cost worth its benefit of potentially streamlining your compliance team and enabling them to do their tasks better?
- How will your employees maintain their competence through training and professional development?
Leverage Remote Work Benefits to Level-up Your Team
As we are living in a reality of remote work — benefiting from greater capabilities and productivity, while embracing old and new technologies alike — now is an ideal time to invest in leveling-up your team to better support your operations and compliance program.
Many will be in need of remote team-building and corporate culture reinforcement. Some will be desperate for morale-enhancing opportunities. And others yet will find themselves with extra time on their hands they itch to fill with something meaningful.
One way to answer all these needs is to invest in their continued education and expert resources. Support your compliance program by supporting the people who will be seeing it through.
And Tetra Tech is here to remotely help and support your compliance needs now and into the foreseeable future with:
- The most up-to-date information on how the product compliance community is best addressing these new challenges.
- Actionable information on the greatest technologies, tools, practices and processes to remain compliant, even from home offices.
- A team of compliance experts available to take on your compliance workload while you revamp your internal team to succeed in their new environments.
Additionally, we are committed to helping support your internal team’s capabilities and expertise, and have been working hard to meet our your needs in this new remote work environment.
Beginning in April, we launched our new online IMDS training program. We are excited to be able to serve your needs even in these tumultuous times and will be delivering even more value than ever before in these online classes with quizzes that ensure material comprehension, forums to engage users and regular coaching support, among many other new enhancements.
Our training experts are prepared to support your compliance program needs — no matter the location. And we have plans to continue to build out online training modules to eventually include the breadth of IMDS and CDX training, and more.