Recovery: playing the long game

Recovery: playing the long game

Recovery is the long game of adjusting and re-building your organisation for a new normal and beyond. As we adjust to lockdown, most of us are still thinking response, getting through the short-term actions on our to do list. Over time we will transition from response to recovery.

While every organisation is different, there are some things we know from past crises that will help your organisation recover. Here are five things to keep in mind as you respond to the current crisis that will help your long-term recovery.

  • 1
    Be prepared for the long haul.

    Crises always last longer and are more complex than you first think.

    This should already be apparent for most of us, but the cascading impacts of the current crisis will continue for a long time – think many months or years, rather than weeks.

    Look after yourself, your family and your team. If you are working, watch the workload and stress levels for yourself and your team. Don’t burn yourself out.

  • 2
    Envisage the future.

    Scenarios are a good way to envisage and plan for an uncertain future. We cannot predict the future with any certainty and research has shown that decision making for situations that we have not previously experienced or considered is problematic.

    So, look ahead for 1, 3, 6, 12, 18 months and start asking “what if…” questions. What possible and diverse scenarios exist for demand and revenue? Critical supplies or costs? Retention and availability of staff? Can you change the way you provide your product or service? Are there trigger points at which you need to make critical decisions?

    Consider what scenarios may be relevant for your business and how you could respond. Try and make decisions that leave you positioned for a range of possible futures.

  • 3
    Keep recovery in mind

    Although it may seem the crisis will never end, it will.

    What can you do now to enable you to get going again quickly when we get into recovery?

    Plan ahead, discuss options with staff, suppliers, and customers. Your plan may need to change depending on future events, but it will be easier and faster to get going if you have thought about it in advance.

  • 4
    Do the right thing.

    Some actions may help in the short-term but have poor outcomes in the longer term.

    This is particularly important when it involves your organisation’s reputation, either internally among staff or externally with customers and suppliers. If you are perceived as acting selfishly or against the interests of those you depend on, it will negatively impact on goodwill and willingness to support your organisation’s recovery.

  • 5
    Keep communicating: upwards, downwards and outwards.

    As we immerse ourselves in responding to the crisis, it is easy to forget how important it is to share and listen to those that we depend on or who depend on us.

    Provide regular business updates, sharing what you know, what you are doing and planning, and what you want them to do. Ask for updates from others. Be open, honest, and listen for feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it – even if it is simply asking for patience and understanding as you work through what needs to be done. If nothing has changed since your last update, say so – even that is keeping people informed.

    Good communication will grow relationships and set you up for recovery.

Business continuity planning for COVID-19: Essentials of operation

Business continuity planning for COVID-19

Essentials of operation

With COVID-19 rapidly evolving, organisations are turning their minds to business continuity. Many businesses are finding they are not well prepared and are seeking guidance or reassurance on how to prepare.

This guide is for organisations that do not have a Business Continuity Plan or want to update it for COVID-19. It is a starter guide to help you and your team to work through your priority operations and what is needed to keep them running.

This guide builds on our Business Continuity Planning Guide for Covid19.  If you have not already read it, we recommend you go there now, before continuing. In particular, the section on taking appropriate actions to reduce the risks to staff and customers is a first step in protecting your business and the wider community.

This guide can be adapted for different sizes and types of organisation. The first part of the guide focuses on keeping your core operations running.  The second part contains questions to guide your response to a decline in demand, loss of revenue, or increased costs.

Need further assistance?

Please get in touch to find out more about our services and how we can help you and your specific needs.

Business continuity planning for COVID-19

Business continuity planning for COVID-19

Resilient Organisations has prepared this advice to provide a structure for refreshing business continuity plans (BCPs) for COVID-19. If you require further assistance, please get in touch with us.


Good communication is essential in all phases of an event, from risk reduction to recovery. We have put communications first as it is frequently overlooked as staff become focused on other aspects of operational delivery. Some communication will be organisation-wide, while some may be specific to parts of the organisation.

  • What messages do we need to give to staff?
  • What do we need to tell the public and customers?
  • What do we need to communicate with suppliers and potential response and recovery partners?
  • Do we have the systems in place to enable rapid communication? For example, do we have the necessary contact information for all staff and external partners readily available?

In thinking about communication, some basic components are:

  • What has happened / is expected to happen?
  • What you know or don’t know?
  • What you are doing?
  • What do you want them to do?

Phase 1: Avoid or reduce impact

What do we know and what do we need to know about the virus and reducing risk? The Ministry of Health is a key source for guidance.

How do we reduce the impact on staff?
  • Protective measures – surface cleaning, hand-washing, respiratory hygiene etc.
  • Reducing exposure from travel, mass gatherings, etc.
  • Dealing with staff illness - what are our ‘stay-away’ rules.
  • Do we have staff who are more vulnerable? Are there extra measures we can take to keep those staff safe?
  • What messages do we give to customers and how can we adjust our services to reduce the risk of spreading the virus among customers and staff?

Phase 2: Business Continuity Planning

Critical processes

  • What are our critical processes and how may these be affected?
  • Who is needed to maintain these services? Who else could fill those roles if staff are absent?
  • What other resources (physical, financial, or expertise) are needed and how may these be affected?
  • What critical services may be affected due to suppliers, contractors or staff unavailability or the inability to supply critical components/spares etc. Are we adequately prepared for supply chain disruption?
  • How might it affect the demand for our services? Are there areas where demand may increase (such as Contact Centre?) or decrease? What are the financial implications of this?
  • What else will impact on our ability to maintain services?

BC arrangements

  • What are our planned business workarounds for the processes and impacts identified above? What is in our existing BCPs? What is missing and/or could be improved to respond better?
  • Have we got the necessary components in place to put our BCPs into practice? For example, do all staff have the necessary access, equipment, and skills to work from home if needed? Do we have suitable personal protection equipment (PPE) available for staff? Do we have or can we get stocks of critical spares? Have backup staff been trained and/or is there sufficient guidance on what to do? Do we have or can we obtain the financial resources we need to keep operating?
  • How can we help staff work from home if schools are shut?
  • At what point do we close or reduce some services?
  • How could we adapt? Can staff be re-deployed from non-essential or less urgent services to high priority tasks? What training may they need to do this? Is this training necessary in advance?
  • What other partners, internal or external, could help us (considering how they may also be affected)? Or how can we help them?
  • What services will we rely on from other partners or contractors? What are their response plans? This may apply to a wide range of contractors or partners, internally and externally.


  • What is needed to aid the recovery or restoration of services?
  • What is needed to support staff, especially if they have experienced the loss of someone close?
  • What issues may come up for staff if they are returning to work?
  • To what extent does the organisation need to adjust its services to support its staff and community to recover?

Final thought

Things rarely return to business as usual after a crisis. When thinking about response and recovery, keep in mind changing customer demand. Adaptability is a key part of resilience.

Shut Happens updated

Shut Happens booklet updated

We have recently updated one of our key resources for small businesses - Shut Happens - A short guide to preparing for the unexpected.

The key message is still the same - preparing for the unexpected doesn't have to be hard -  making time to take smalls steps can help get your business ready to 'get through'. But what we have changed is the words on the cover page. While natural disaster can definitely cause enormous disruption for a small business, disruption can come in many other shapes and forms including losing key staff, supply chain disruption, pandemic, equipment failure, extreme weather, power outage, etc.

Download the updated Shut Happens booklet

Congratulations to Khiam Lee

Congratulations to Khiam Lee

Khiam has submitted and successfully defended his PhD thesis, A case study of collaborative disaster management in Malaysia.

Khiam’s research examines the dynamics of collaboration of ASEAN Member States particularly the national disaster management offices during different cycles of disaster risk management. Khiam used multiple case studies to explore the phenomenon of multi-party collaboration in the face of extreme events such as mega-scale natural disasters.

Read more about Khiam and his research

Latest research

Latest research update

The Australian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies (AJDTS) has published a special issue focusing on "Pathways to Earthquake Resilience" - The case study of Wellington, New Zealand, featuring two papers from the ResOrgs team.

The paper, Business recovery from disaster: A research update for practitioners focuses on ResOrgs' six-year research interviewing and surveying over 1000 organisations to learn more about the effect of the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes on organisations across their shaken region. This broad and rich dataset of insights can now help other organisations facing disruptions in the future, with the paper identifying the top ten lessons for managing through crisis, being agile and adaptive in the face of change, and finding opportunities in disruption.

The other paper, From physical disruption to community impact: Modelling a Wellington Fault earthquake focuses on the work of Charlotte Brown and researchers from Market Economics and GNS Science using the MERIT model to model the economic impact of an earthquake event to support decision-making for investment options to improve disaster preparedness.

LA Times story on lessons learnt from Christchurch earthquakes

LA Times story on lessons learnt from Christchurch earthquakes

Rong-Gong Lin, a reporter who has worked on earthquake news at the Los Angeles Times for nearly a decade, recently visited Christchurch and spoke to a number of people, including Tracy Hatton, to learn more about the lessons California can learn from Christchurch.  As he notes in his story, Christchurch bears a distinct resemblance to California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, sharing similar building codes, architectural styles and proximity to major faults and can help educate Californians on what we might to expect when the next earthquake hits one of their cities.

Ron wrote three stories featured in the paper.

EQC Biennial Grant funding

EQC Biennial Grant funding for new project

We are excited to have been awarded a grant under the New Zealand EQC Biennial Grants programme.

Tracy Hatton will be leading a team of researchers looking at how organisations perceive their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and what they actually do to reduce earthquake impacts on their organisation and employees. The project will also look at identifying ways in which policy and legislation can be better leveraged to encourage behaviour change to improve New Zealand’s resilience to disaster.

Read the full press release from EQC.

Farewell to Ellie Kay

Farewell to Ellie Kay

This month we say farewell to Ellie Kay, the youngest of the ResOrgs team. Ellie has been instrumental in the development of the Trajectories programme of the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge, keeps us on track with our diversity and wellbeing goals, and has been involved in many other projects during her time with us.

After an exciting two years at Resilient Organisations, Ellie is heading to the University of Canterbury to take on her next challenge as a Senior Research Analyst in the Learning Evaluation and Academic Development Team. We wish her all the best with her new endeavours and look forward to keeping in touch with her over the coming years!

Building risk management strategies into the vertical construction sector

Building risk management strategies into the vertical construction sector

Achieving a high level of productivity in the construction industry remains challenging. Within the sector, there are also differentiated performance outcomes between the horizontal and vertical construction sector. The recent successes of horizontal infrastructure projects such as the Northern Toll Road Gateway, Waterview Project, and Christchurch Infrastructure Recovery are in contrast to ongoing challenges faced by the vertical construction sector and hence present a unique opportunity for cross-sectoral learning.

A project team, including researchers from Resilient Organisations, Market Economics, and the University of Auckland, has published a  preliminary report from a comparative analysis of the vertical and horizontal construction sectors looking at what causes the varied performance between the two sectors. The report is the outcome of wide-ranging discussions across both vertical and horizontal sectors,  on risk management practice and the enabling factors that drive better risk management practice and productivity performance. The aim is to help initiate practice change in supporting the construction sector to improve risk management behaviours, boost confidence and enhance performance of the sector.

Read the full report