In the last two months, our daily lives have been turned upside down, with us all finding ways to adjust. Here at Imvelo, the big challenge has been changing the way in which we perform our audits. Traditionally done in person, we are now finding innovative ways to do our audits, whilst at the same time having to digitally assess the risks of disruption to services like waste management, or adapting to remote technologies and the wellbeing of remote workers.
How are we learning to adjust?
Remote auditing is new not only for us as environmental consultants, but also for our clients, who are used to having a physical visit performed. Since this technique is so current and a reflection of the lockdown situation, we are taking advice from IEMA, which has been running an online course in ‘Changes to surveillance audits and certificate renewal assessments during the pandemic’.
What does a remote environmental audit look like?
Rather than a face-to-face meeting, we start with an interview via Zoom to get to know the client and their perspective of the project. The next step is to request documents and evidence from the client via email, which we can then look through and process.
Then, since the ‘on the day observation’ is so important and unmissable, we still perform a site visit, but this time taking into account social distancing measures. Site access might be an issue, so we organise a much quicker visit to get everything ticked off.
In effect, a remote audit is not too different, simply the order changes, but the objectives remain the same and we are still able to deliver peace of mind, legislation compliance, and the maintenance of standards. We must continue to perform these tasks to demonstrate to external auditors and stakeholders that we’ve done something, rather than nothing.
The pros and cons of remote auditing
The main benefit of remote auditing is that it places a lot of importance on government health guidelines and public health, which are priorities right now. At the same time, clients are still able to meet their audit objectives in a compliant way.
Going forward, can we learn something from remote auditing techniques?
Since we are in the business of finding ways for businesses to improve their environmental performance, we cannot exclude ourselves from this lens and admit that the advantages of remote auditing will sit well in the eco-friendly column. With reduced road miles and more effective use of company time, productivity can increase whilst simultaneously reducing carbon emissions.
On the other side, perhaps our clients, having had to make many of their customers work from home, are now also seeing new possibilities for increasing remote work and even procuring remote services in a way that reduces their carbon footprint.
Is now a good time for an audit?
Despite what businesses may think about the current climate, due to lockdowns and restrictions, it’s actually a good time to perform an audit. Business must push forward in order to progress and overcome this pandemic situation. Environmental Consultants like ourselves have been forced to quickly adjust and find ways to offer an equal or near-equal level of service to our valued clients. We want our clients to know that even in bizarre times, we are trying to keep things as normal as we can.
We also help organisations through their external audit process and can support to whatever degree is required, however, we must ensure impartiality and objectivity from any specific certification body.