On virtually an hourly basis, we hear about the fallout we can expect from the Coronavirus. And there certainly has been massive impacts!

From falls in the stock market to decreasing profit margins for big businesses; the shutting down of restaurants and theme parks; a marked decline with imports and exports as well as the oil market, and even people who can’t meet their adopted children from other countries. The list goes on and on.

Indeed, it has been tough for people on cruises where outbreaks have occurred, and quarantine procedures have been introduced. Yet, in amongst this crisis, there have been the usual deaths associated with cancer, heart disease, suicide, and children and babies dying of starvation. These have all taken a back seat despite the toll these have taken on the world. It’s essential not to lose sight of these issues amongst the traumatic pictures of people wearing masks to protect themselves from this virus across the globe

Now, what does the Coronavirus have to do with auditing? Funnily enough, there’s potential for quite a bit. At a recent NDIS meeting, the topic of the Coronavirus came up, and the question was asked: ‘What will happen for us when we are due for audit, and no-one can move around because of Coronavirus?

To start with, we thought this was probably a pretty far-fetched concern. While there have been few cases so far here in Australia, we could see that people appear to be quite fearful about this virus, perhaps more so than what we saw with the Bird Flu, SARS virus or Swine Flu that hit pandemic levels over the past twenty years across the globe.

However, the topic of Coronavirus was a serious one for these colleagues, so we looked at what would happen in the event we could not drive or fly to various locations, perhaps because of travel restrictions or the implications of going into a known zone where Coronavirus was rampant.

The business owners said they would still need to operate and, conscious of audit timeframes, considered how the audit could be managed in amongst dealing with the fallout of these health factors.

Initial thoughts were about postponing the audit itself until travel restrictions were lifted, and more than likely, this would occur.

With the rate of change in the field of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, there may well be other opportunities to conduct audits so that the people involved in this sort of process could complete their requirements without placing any extra pressure on themselves, their staff or clients. Perhaps there will come a day when we can conduct these audits remotely through the use of technology – time will tell on that one!

From what I know, flexibility, and being aware of the impact of ill-health on services, organisations and staff is front and centre with certification bodies as well. I know how much work goes into accommodating these sorts of factors to ensure audits do not occur when people cannot manage this in amongst significant ill-health or the fallout from natural disasters. As far as I am concerned, we cannot forget we are serving people in amongst the audit process. While the media covers the financial blows, to the local as well as the global economy, we need to consider other significant issues impacting the world.

If we get to the point where we cannot travel because of a virus pandemic, then I think we will be facing a lot of severe issues for our community indeed. Concerns about audits may not be very high on the agenda during that time.

Thinking ahead:

  1. Are you concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on your workplace? What are you doing to provide the correct information about this virus to your staff and clients?
  2. If travel is impaired at some point in the future due to a pandemic virus or similar health issue, how do you think businesses will operate? How would audits be conducted in that sort of world?