The importance of resilience in our communities and our businesses

The recent resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Victoria and the re-establishment of restrictions and lockdowns has hit Australian families, communities, and businesses incredibly hard. As we enter yet another period of extreme disruption it is evident that one truth remains – we need to remain resilient. It is not yet apparent how long COVID‑19 will continue to impact our economy, our businesses, or our communities, but we need to take stock of our current position and build resilience for whatever may come.

A new reality is emerging for Australia and it is clear the core of many industries and communities is challenged – but opportunities are appearing in ways that many would never have considered before the pandemic.

Whilst the health and safety of staff, their families and the broader community is paramount; operationally speaking, businesses have had service delivery models, workforces, supply chains, technology and physical infrastructure impacted, and they need to find ways to navigate these changes while still employing proper governance, risk and control measures.

Business’s finances are in the spotlight as impacts on liquidity and financing call for more scenario planning, stress testing and contingency planning. And this in turn put a focus on a business’ commercial resilience as they consider changes in customer behaviours, markets, products and services and the staying power and importance of their own brands

For all of us though, the concern for our communities has been overarching. And while many government measures have been put into place to help Australians and Australian businesses through this crisis – businesses also have a role to play in our communities, health and wellbeing.

There is a renewed focus on companies’ corporate and social responsibilities as well as increased pressures to maintain and sustain their own workforce. For many there will be a focus on their internal needs, the mental health of their workers, increased pressures due to working from home, financial instability as job tenure is destabilised and income reduced.

With such a change in how people work businesses will need to reassess how they physically impact their environment. The blurring of commercial, industrial, residential and recreational purposes/activities in suburbs, towns and cities will require organisations to have a much more sophisticated understanding of who and what constitutes a ‘community’.

Not-for-profit organisations that many businesses have physically supported through volunteering will be greatly impacted. Their need is now greater that pre-COVID. Can you contribute in other ways to assist them? They also need to build resilience in a time where the need for their services could be even greater.

We must ask ourselves how we can play our part in ensuring that we contribute to a successful economic transition and set future generations up for success – and what part we must play now to plan for this future.

The only way we can be part of this future building is through business resilience – not just for the current crisis, but for the challenges yet to come. The suddenness of the impacts of COVID‑19 meant that businesses were schooled in crisis management overnight, but managing a crisis is just one element of resilience. Coming out from a crisis, and surviving to the point of gaining a competitive advantage is what business resilience is about.

We have seen the immediate impacts of COVID‑19, and are beginning to move towards the new reality of how our businesses can and should operate in the future. We’ve collectively been through a short period of extreme change, and we’re moving into a longer period where the environment is going to be difficult – so now, more than ever, companies will be looking for areas of competitive advantage, trying avoid anything that puts them at risk of being left behind and creating a business of resilience for the future.

Read our recently released report, COVID-19: A Guide to Maintaining Business Resilience – an approach to building resilience.

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