Trend spotting: Board work 2023

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Continued focus on digitalisation, more board meetings and management of the outside world’s demands for sustainability, inclusion and freedom. We delve into the trends that will permeate next year’s board work.

The Active Board

In a changing world, decisions cannot wait. Perhaps it is fortunate that boards around the world have had to rely on digital meetings to succeed in board work in recent years. We have become accustomed to a new way of meeting. Being seen digitally saves time and resources for everyone involved. The time members save on video meetings, will in the future begin to be invested again – in new meetings.

The future is predicted to include more frequent board meetings, so that companies can adapt to new conditions faster. A combination of physical and digital meetings is likely to be the most common form of the boards’ meeting structure. The annual reconciliation is expected to take place physically, while shorter meetings will be booked digitally during the year. This will hopefully make it easier to update and develop companies at a faster pace.

Many boards have long worked under time pressure, but some of the time has been won back. It will most likely make the board more active and lead to positive changes.

Digitalisation is a continued trend for board work

Still, many companies are grappling with topics like cybersecurity and storage. The world around us is also changing at a faster pace and it is important to be able to adapt to new requirements and expectations. When the board works digitally, it is easier to deliver accurate reports and decision support, signing of documents and agreements can largely be done on the fly and meetings can be booked at short notice.

Despite the fact that digitalization has been on the agenda for quite a while, it is likely to continue to stay current for a while longer. As individuals digitize their lives, companies and their boards need to keep up.

Globally, we are moving towards a more cloud-based existence, and more and more markets are likely to buck the trend.

The board that hasn’t already latched onto the digitalization trend, will probably have done so shortly. And, of course, it’s not just the board work that is being digitized. Most businesses can free up important time by leveraging digital services.

Diversity and inclusion on the board’s agenda

The outside world is placing increasing demands on companies’ positions on important issues. Diversity and inclusion is one such. This can be seen not least in social media, where companies are sometimes praised, sometimes sawn at the foot of their feet – based entirely on their handling of issues like these.

More and more boards are becoming aware of the benefits of safeguarding diversity and working actively for an inclusive society. Aside from the moral aspect, it is valuable from a purely business point of view. The greater the spread in terms of background and experience the board has, the better and stronger the knowledge base will be.

The board of the future will also need to review and ensure that the range of products and services is sufficiently inclusive. Makeup companies may need to review the possibilities of expanding the range of colors to suit more skin tones, stores need to review accessibility both online and in physical stores for people with disabilities to be able to shop and apps need to be adapted to be used together with various technical aids. Those companies that do not care about working with issues like these risk ending up in a storm and losing potential talent when recruiting.

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Board work and the free workplace

That the pandemic changed society’s view of classic office work has hardly passed anyone by. Research shows that the majority want to continue working from home, at least a few days a week.

But how do you implement freedom with responsibility in a successful way? How do you ensure that production continues at the same pace? How much freedom of choice is reasonable to offer staff? When businesses change fundamentally in the way that many have experienced in recent years, the demands for follow-up and decision-making become greater.

There are many indications that the board’s work will largely revolve around the workplace of the future and finding the keys that will make it work without friction in the future.

Climate in focus for board work

The latest IPCC report was not a pleasant read and the climate threat feels more present than ever.

Staying up to date on climate change is becoming increasingly important from a board perspective. For the companies covered by the Sustainability Reporting Act, it is also absolutely necessary.

If sustainability is not already a recurring item on the agenda of board meetings, it is likely to be so in the future. It is easy to navigate incorrectly when new information is constantly being shared and conditions are changing at a rapid pace. The modern board will keep abreast of what is happening on the climate issue and work actively to further develop the company’s work from an environmental perspective – completely in line with current norms and legislation.

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