As organizations start to reopen and enter the “next normal” phase, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to significantly affect the global economy and how organizations resume business. For many organizations, managing this new business environment will require examining their business continuity plans and finding ways to minimize risks, increase efficiency, improve sustainability, and decrease operational costs. Rethinking operating models and merging technology with strategy will become more important than ever, and digital transformation of EHS programs will play a major role in how organizations move forward.
Embracing AI and Digital Transformation
Given today’s uncertainty, many organizations may feel hesitant to make major changes to their operations. Often, operating with a business-as-usual mindset can feel safer, but digital transformation is exactly what can help organizations navigate these challenging times as it can help them accomplish goals with fewer resources.
With digital transformation, organizations can automate and streamline their work processes while reducing their reliance on spreadsheets and introducing AI into their EHS programs. This allows organizations to efficiently and cost-effectively manage the growing burden of compliance from anywhere and at any time, which is especially important as more employees are working remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, despite all that’s going on, organizations are expected to spend $22 trillion dollars in digital transformation planning to perform better and meet demands of stakeholders. Organizations that don’t invest in new technology risk getting left behind by competitors. For EHS teams, investing in technology is especially important as they face greater visibility into their environmental performance and look to safely bring their employees back to work.
What will the Next Normal look like?
Before organizations can invest in digital transformation, it’s important they take into account what the next phase will look like to properly adjust their EHS program. Currently, many workers continue to work from home, travel restrictions remain in place, workforce reductions are a reality, and budgets face greater scrutiny given the economic environment. For the time being, organizations should expect these factors to affect their EHS program in the near term.
Ensuring worker safety will also be a major consideration. Social distancing recommendations are expected to last, and while many employees will remain remote, some have already begun returning to the office. EHS inspections often require close interaction, and organizations needs to prepare a strategy for keeping these employees safe.
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To manage some of these challenges, offering work flexibility will be especially important. With remote work, everyone needs access to technology to work efficiently while leadership needs access to data from anywhere to monitor program performance. Organizations also need processes and tools in place to remain agile in such an uncertain environment. Fortunately, investing in digital transformation can help organizations create a flexible and nimble workplace.
How EHS Teams Are Embracing Digital Transformation
In particular, organizations focused on EHS can benefit from digital transformation when it comes to compliance. Globally, the industry sees a 50 percent increase in regulations every five years. With that kind of disruption to compliance programs, slow, error-prone, and inconsistent manual processes won’t cut it. As if that’s not challenging enough, compliance also requires costly deconstruction of permits, regulations, and standards into individual requirements, and different owners at each stage of the compliance process have to manage hundreds of overlapping regulatory changes.
However, with compliance automation, data shows that a single EHS professional can work 100 times faster and 10 times more cost effectively while accomplishing the same amount of works as 10 colleagues. In one month, the typical EHS professional can read and deconstruct about 2,000 pages, but with the increased productivity from technology, that EHS professional can focus their attention to more strategic efforts.
Now that the EHS professional can efficiently collect data, they can better track trends, such as emissions output. This gives an EHS team a clearer understanding of what’s causing those changes over time, so they can address any potential issues.
Permitting is another critical area for leveraging technology. Technology like ehsAI allows EHS professionals to convert complex EHS regulations into action items in their EHS software, turning requirements into tasks in a calendar. By using EHS software to manage permit requirements, organizations can easily keep track of what has and hasn’t been completed and can quickly get visibility into their overall compliance status.
Learn More About Digital Transformation
To learn more about how digital transformation can help your organization navigate these difficult times, watch our webinar, Digital Transformation in EHS: Leading the Way to the Next Normal.