Return to work: Building resilience for a safer tomorrow

Originally published in BSA Society Matters magazine.

By Andrew Husband, Partner, Operational Resilience Lead, KPMGCover-for-website-and-social.png

The safety and wellbeing of employees and members should be at the core of societies’ return to work plans. Employees and members alike need to have confidence that the workplace they are returning to is safe and will remain so, and societies will need to dedicate significant management attention and resources to ensure that. However, they also need to overcome a multitude of immediate and practical operational challenges to achieve this goal – and resilience will be key.

Ensuring a connected and sustained focus on business priorities when restarting operations

Going beyond these immediate people-related considerations, a successful ‘restart’ strategy will have considered the need for broad-based resilience in the new reality. In fact, reactivating operations will require a sustained and material focus across all operational aspects of the business.  Supply chains, technology, premises, privacy and data will all play a critical role in enabling a safe and resilient resumption of core business and physical operations.

Building resilience capacity to manage uncertainty

The shift to large-scale remote working and various forms of “modified BAU” has been an extraordinary achievement but it has stretched businesses in many ways. We have seen this recently with one of the major ISPs experiencing a delivery outage. What hadn’t been appreciated was the concentration of remote workers reliant on this single ISP for their home broadband provision and no contingency was in place. This example illustrates the potential vulnerabilities inherent in our new service delivery models.

Conducting scenario-based exercises to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities

Building societies should undertake extensive scenario-based exercises to expose vulnerabilities and enable quick fixes alongside contingency planning form a very important component of resilience building strategy.

Indicative scenarios might include a large-scale telecoms outage, a building evacuation, the failure of a critical third-party, a cyber ransomware attack or a major IT failure, amongst many others. All share the same starting point of today’s stressed operations and Covid-19 context. In selecting a portfolio of scenarios, it is important to consider what additional stresses are anticipated, the vulnerabilities identified and the solutions that are put into place.  While developing these scenarios, societies must also consider the evolving level of risk - ranging from elongated lockdowns through to an eventual “all-clear”.KPMG-article.png

Innovation and challenges ahead

Innovation will be key to building resilience capacity. Building societies have proven their ability to innovate at an unprecedented rate in the face of Covid-19 and many have reached a position of relative stability in a spectacularly short period of time.

Societies must now tap into this tremendous ability to innovate to develop sustainable and broad-based resilience that can support them in navigating the challenges ahead.

A resilience-first approach will pay dividends on multiple fronts – helping organisations get back on track in current times, whilst equipping them with the required experience and processes to deal with similar scenarios in the future.