Monday 8 June 2020

I was due to run the Manchester Marathon in early April. As the big day approached, I found myself worrying about things that seem laughable now.

I worried about the weather, traffic jams or the risk of picking up a last-minute injury.

Despite the regular and devastating updates on the impact the pandemic was having across the globe, cancellation due to COVID-19 did not ever cross my mind.

Looking back, it is clear the event could never possibly proceed as planned, but at the time I failed (or did not want) to see the bigger picture. My mind was focused on other matters.

For many years the notion of a pandemic has featured on strategic risk registers up and down the country. Most organisations relied on business continuity plan as a means to manage the loss of key staff, assets or income streams.

Theoretically, this should have worked well, with agile colleagues delivering key services remotely, single person or partner dependencies identified, and plans B, C and D considered. However, like my marathon plan, it is fair to say that the things we do not immediately think of can cause the greatest problems.

The reality of COVID-19 will almost certainly cause organisations to revisit their business continuity approach - in collaboration with others around them.  

Working from home has become the norm for millions of us who are able to do so. While this enables a range of business processes to operate effectively, it has an impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. 

Keeping in touch is crucial. Speaking with colleagues via Skype and in teleconferences has been key to my ongoing sanity. Routine is also important - despite how tempting it may be to work in my pyjamas! In times of uncertainty, it is amazing how much we value the ordinary.

Over the coming months there will be more ups and downs as we navigate through unchartered waters. Remember to look after yourself and those around you. Cherish the mundane, stay connected and accept you cannot control every situation - as alien as that may seem for a risk manager.

Chris Walker, Senior Cost Manager, Turner & Townsend and ALARM Board Director.

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