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Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

Things are getting weird. That’s bad for compliance

Covid created a domino effect that won’t be fully understood for years to come, if ever. But one thing is certain, things in 2023 are getting weird, really weird.

Living in a post-Covid world has created new uncertainty for employees. To return to the office, or not? Former remote-first companies are now trying to convince workers to come back to now empty hallways. Even remote work enabler Zoom is trying to coax its employees back to the office.

The White House has asked agencies to push people back to their desks.

For another example, we set out to look for new office space this summer as our lease was coming to an end. We checked out the inventory, both of space of our own and at some co-working spaces. The quotes we got were, in most cases, double what we are currently paying for equivalent space.

This is at a time when office vacancy rates in Austin are skyrocketing. I frequently drive by the Dell HQ and see a couple dozen cars sitting in a parking lot sized to accommodate several thousand.

It’s a weird juxtaposition. Folks who want to find small office space can’t, and big companies can’t fill what they already have. This isn’t unique to Austin, it’s in cities all over the country.

Inflation is high. Trips to the grocery store are more expensive than they used to be.

There’s a feeling of unpredictability in the air. Some things feel like they are changing too quickly, and others too slowly.

Interest rates are high, slowing many real estate markets down to a pace that resembles a turtle crawling through wet cement.

There’s slowness in a lot of places. A family member of mine recently had to request a copy of their birth certificate from the State Department. The timeline to get the stamped reprint? At least four to six months.

Even FCPA enforcement feels like it has come to a standstill, with just six corporate enforcement actions so far this year. The DOJ has only had a single corporate FCPA settlement in 2023.

Bizarreness has become commonplace, whether it’s corruption scandals happening in a country at the top of the Transparency International CPI list, or two billionaires arguing about how to livestream their cage fight.

Then there are Biblical levels of weirdness, like the Texas woman who was attacked by a snake and a hawk at the same time.

America isn’t exceptional, and these issues are likely appearing everywhere in the world. But when it comes directly into our lives, sometimes it feels almost, well, personal.

Compliance professionals shouldn’t ignore the weirdness happening around them. The straw that breaks the camel’s back when giving into temptation doesn’t have to come from the work setting.

Maybe employees become fed up after they’ve had back-to-back power outages at home in 110 degree weather. Cheating to lock in a sale might be alluring to the psyche for more reasons than just hitting a sales target. Maybe they just feel an overpowering need for a “win”?

But every situation can be made worse by making a bad decision.

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