CEO Memo: A hybrid year: Navigating a time of transition

What a fascinating year 2021 has been so far as we travel through this period of transition in Australia.

Are you working from home or working from the office? Attending events face-to-face or virtually? Meeting contacts for a coffee or still catching up via Zoom? Or perhaps you are mixing it up with a bit of everything.

Navigating this hybrid state will differ depending on the individual and the preferences set by their workplaces, but here’s my take on some work and business trends of 2021 so far.

Transition trend #1: We are thrilled to be back at ‘real life’ events

There is currently a palpable, positive energy at face-to-face events. People are thrilled to be out and about, chatting, brainstorming, and importantly stepping away from their desk for some professional development and networking.

We in Australia are very aware of how fortunate we are to be able to have this as a safe option and should be so proud that we have all done our part to make this the current reality.

Pleasingly, Governance Institute’s annual national roadshow — the Governance and Risk Management Forums — are also back face-to-face and commence this month.

This is a major meeting of minds for the profession, with events in Queensland on 5‒6 May, then South Australia (12 May), Western Australia (13‒14 May), NSW (17‒18 May), Victoria (20‒21 May). A virtual option is also on offer on 17‒18 May.

If you haven’t already registered for one of these Forums, I highly recommend you do so. I will be attending most of the Forums and look forward to seeing you there.

Transition trend #2: A time of change — again — for workplaces

We are seeing a significant variation of work practices emerging this year, with many — previously quite cautious - large companies now requiring workforces to be back in the office, with work from home days becoming the default rather than the norm.

Others have stated that WFH will remain standard well into this year, while some, including Governance Institute, are mixing it up with a hybrid approach.

I have spoken strongly on this issue previously, urging employers to shun presenteeism, and to measure productivity in terms of outcomes, not location.

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Transition trend #3: Business communications and meetings in limbo again

With the recent expiry of temporary measures allowing corporations to hold virtual and hybrid meetings and enabling the electronic execution of documents and digital shareholder communications, we seem to have gone ‘back to the future’ with the Corporations Act 2001 reverting to its pre-COVID form.

The law on virtual AGMs and electronic document execution is still unclear and modernisation reforms have stalled in Parliament. ASIC has adopted a 'no-action' position that may protect entities that hold virtual or hybrid AGMs from enforcement activity, but there is still the risk of legal action from third parties.

While Governance Institute will continue to keep a close watch on this issue and continue our ongoing advocacy, for the current state of play, take a look at the just-released Guidance: Update on AGMs, electronic document execution and digital shareholder communications.

Are there any key workplace and business transition trends that you are noticing so far this year? Let us know at media@governanceinstitute.com.au and we may be able to explore these issues further in our News Update or Governance Directions journal.

And we look forward to seeing you soon at one of our events or short courses — virtually or face-to-face!

Cheers

Megan

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