Let’s embed this sense of community and the lessons from Covid-19

I was fortunate to be able to move to a new house just days before the lock down.  And we have met more of our neighbours in the last three weeks as we bang our pans in support of the NHS on a Thursday evening, than in all the three years living in our previous home.  Even with social distancing we can raise a glass with each other from across the street.  The sense of community that is shining through at this awful time is extraordinary.

In all the articles, videos and WhatsApp jokes displaying varying levels of taste and ingenuity, I noticed a short clip reminding us how these current events are changing all our lives dramatically, but that we may look back in time positively on a period of readjustment and reassessment. How some good may come out of this as we experience a moment of stillness and maybe even creativity.

So, how can our board members and those responsible for setting the direction and oversight of organisations across the sector make sure this is the case?

Most of us have now experienced at least three ‘black swan’ events in our career: the financial crisis of 2008, the horror of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and now the recent impacts of covid-19. In risk management sessions with boards, the high impact but very low likelihood events are added to the registers in the ‘just in case’ section. But they now have real resonance. Business continuity discussions of the future will be enriched by the practical reality of the survival of a catastrophic event nobody really believed could happen. And how the sector pulled together to support colleagues, customers and communities far beyond the call of duty. We will come through this with a new perspective and it is worth taking the time and reflection as to what this means for our organisations.

Governance may feel very different. Not just the mechanics as we become more used to operating remotely but our whole outlook may experience a paradigm shift. Strategic priorities might not change in the longer term, but you may want a fresh look at shorter and even medium-term priorities.  Not just what they are, but how you deliver them in practice, and how collaborating with others in the sector might empower your organisation further. These are unprecedented times, but the power of the collaboration which can be seen across government, local authorities, charities, health workers, and even taxi drivers and even catering companies to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, demonstrate real possibilities for the future housing sector.

“Streamline processes, share information, make change at pace, and collaborate to bring the communities we build closer together”

Boards must take some time to stop and be present, consider what are your real priorities. Can you embrace innovation, work with other organisations to streamline processes, share information, make change at pace, and collaborate to bring the communities we build closer together? The community spirit and sense of togetherness that is in most of your visions now is an opportunity never realised before so let’s make it real in practice.

Cathy Beazley, Service Delivery Director at Altair with considerable knowledge and experience of governance, audit, assurance and implementing practical risk management. Click here to view her profile and contact details.