Perhaps you haven’t pondered this question. On work-from-home days, do burglars break into their own homes? Or is this time spent doing research, preparing plans, taking online training courses on emerging best practices, virtual networking with others in their field, or similar activities? At some point, however, they need to leave their homes and return to their workplace—your home.
I feel the same way about compliance and ethics. Some tasks can be performed remotely, but the job also requires an element of being in the field. Tasks like reviewing and updating policies, designing training programs, many aspects of monitoring involving data analysis, and some others can likely be performed effectively while working remotely.
However, accurately assessing and impacting culture and behavior, and building trusting relationships that lead to buy-in on what the compliance and ethics team is trying to accomplish, is much more difficult without meeting in person and experiencing the work environment. I still recall a very good presentation at one of our conferences entitled “Compliance by Walking Around” or something to that effect. Many great examples of compliance in action were discussed, examples that would be difficult or impossible to replicate in a remote environment.
How much time a compliance and ethics professional should spend in the workplace versus working remotely is a difficult question that involves many variables. Often, there are restrictions that make it impossible for us to be in the same location as the people we need to work with to be most effective. In that regard, saying that being physically present is a requirement of a compliance role is not entirely accurate. However, our work in building culture and relationships certainly benefits from being present.
See, being a compliance and ethics professional is just like being a burglar—only you’re on the opposite side of the law. Okay, I admit that compliance and burglary don’t really have much in common, but it made a fun comparison for the point I wanted to make.