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The Role of the Board and the Future of Work

The uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 may finally be ebbing, while climate change and geo-political risk, indeed war, move to the foreground. Despite this the pandemic continues to shape and reshape how we work.

Seismic changes are underway and Fidelio is seeing this clearly reflected in Boardroom discussions. Over the past year we hosted several of roundtables and also interviewed a number of leading chairs across a range of industries with a view to examining the future of work from a Board and Chair perspective.

We raised the question what is the role of the Board in guiding how we work in the future and how will the Board itself work in the future?

Key Insights

Key findings from Fidelio's research include:

  • Both in the Boardroom and operationally organisations adapted rapidly and surprisingly seamlessly to remote working, wherever this proved feasible

  • The Board needed a high degree of trust in management during this phase which was generally well placed – occasionally closer Board oversight or guidance would have been valuable

  • Companies with a strong culture were better able to navigate difficult issues about pay and downsizing; Board focus on culture is time well spent

  • Boards recognised the need for highly effective HR, with the CPO frequently required to provide a much more strategic, proactive and analytical approach than previously

  • Transitioning to working from home was the easy part; as companies return, Boards are acutely aware of the longer-term implications of new polices including balancing different priorities:

    • Employee well being

    • Access to talent

    • Productivity and learning

    • What does the client want

  • Hybrid working, with its benefits, is probably the new norm but the dangers of locking into a rigid model were flagged:

    • Potential two tier system

    • Risk to diversity and increase in inequality

    • Loss of innovation, agility and client-responsiveness

  • Climate change risk is a major consideration which is not simply addressed by WFH but needs an eco-system response

Boards too will be working differently with hybrid meetings here to stay and a much clearer focus on the best use of Board time – in person or remote

Agility and the Board

Fidelio’s research highlighted ESG being adopted as a tool to help Boards navigate the at times competing stakeholder demands on the business, including relating to the future of work.

The understanding of employee engagement, as well as how we build and develop meaningful working relationships with colleagues, clients, regulators and shareholders has also increased significantly in Boardrooms in the past two years.

The role of the Chair is also evolving: facing increasing complexity, as well as the need to lead the Board in different ways and through different channels, today’s Chair needs a much greater degree of agility than even two years ago.

To read the full Fidelio report on ‘The Role of the Board and the Future of Work’ click here.


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Gillian - Karran Cumberlege

Head of

Board Advisory

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