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Building a Better Auditor: We Are Social Animals

Blogs Beatrice Saredo Parodi Dec 05, 2022

Communicating is part of our daily life, when speaking, moving, dressing, crying, shouting. We communicate something even when we do not say a word. Even when we close our eyes at night, we are still communicating.

The evolution from childhood-talks, to teenager-chats, to a more professional-language and approach is slow and difficult, requiring us to grow, study, work, and embed social behaviors that allow us to stay in connection with our family, friends, and colleagues. We are social animals. We live in a society, one in connection with the other. And each one of us has a routine, both a family routine and a professional routine.

How have these routines changed because of people moving to more remote work? How are people's needs changing?

Let's focus on one simple communication activity in the morning. Take, for example, a professional woman who used to start her day with a quick breakfast at home, a commute to the office, and then a coffee with the boss or a dear colleague. Now with a hybrid schedule or fully remote position, she has stopped the in-office coffee chat and the commuting. With the time she has saved commuting, she now starts working a bit earlier, but she also has time for other activities, such as listening to the news while stretching or getting out for a quick jog or cycle.

This is a new routine, and at the beginning she doesn't notice that the coffee chat is gone because it was "just a coffee chat." But after some weeks, something is wrong, she is not exactly aligned with her colleagues, she is no longer motivated and aware of what's going on, and she misses a goal. At this point, she wants to talk with the boss, but she's not sure of the best time to call. She prefers to schedule a catch-up in the afternoon, but when she sees that the agenda is full, she must postpone the call to the day after. In the meantime, another urgent topic is raised, and she must cancel the catch-up, and postpone again.

Day after day, we get used to speaking less, sharing less, and doing everything mostly on our own, asking for feedback only when it is extremely relevant or a formal approval is required. And at the end, we start working solo. The time of the online "Happy Hours" is gone, and everyone is drinking wine or beer alone. Our social soul is repressed. We get more and more used to going through social networks to have our social identity addressed somewhere, and the contact with our closest colleagues or boss is lost.

That is, unless we give value to every chat that we have or used to have — a coffee chat as any other — and we replace these even informal meetings one-by-one with virtual recurrent appointments. It requires planning. In the past, the arrival in the office prompted an invitation for having a coffee and a chat together. When remote, we must plan that slot of time and the topic.

It's not unlike how communication evolves between parents and children. You speak and communicate with your kids every day, but as they grow up and then live on their own, you start creating another kind of communication routine to stay in touch that is made of Sunday lunches, weekly calls, or any other options you might have to stay in contact with your adult child.

We need connections, and staying connected is a sort of job (not unlike public relations). We must engage time and energy to stay connected, and this way we can receive love, commitment, passion — but also tasks, information, goals, and results. Even though there are humans more or less willing to stay in connection with others, it is truly necessary from a business perspective to be able to change our approach to reach our communication objectives. Even when some communication habits are changing, we have discovered how much relevant information was shared during those undervalued daily coffee breaks. Just as you understand how much of the communication you miss when your child leaves and you must recreate another way to stay in contact, we must do the same with our business colleagues.

Finally, we should also consider this: Why do we speak so much of "remote working" now? Why didn't we consider remote working when employees in multinational companies were working together, one in Japan and the other in Europe or the U.S.? Were they working remotely or not? It seems that only now we realize we may have been "working remotely" for years or decades.

Beatrice Saredo Parodi

Beatrice Saredo Parodi is an internal audit senior manager for Euronext, based in Milan.