New challenges, new people

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Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre, 2016

You will almost certainly need to invest in additional skills to deliver a significant capital works programme. Appropriately skilled people will be in demand, and everyone will be dealing with their own personal disaster recovery experience. 

Be strategic 

We recommend establishing a personnel engagement strategy as part of recovery planning from day one. It should include provision for limited-term engagements to ensure flexibility as programme requirements evolve. 

When it comes to recruiting, you will be competing in an inflated market, and you are likely to need to bring in people from overseas. If so, don’t treat the NZ operating environment as transparent. Provide an induction to the local market to avoid later issues that could arise from unspoken assumptions. 

You may also need to alter your recruitment priorities. For example, tertiary qualifications may be critical to university recruiters under normal operating conditions but less so during disaster recovery. 

At the outset, we recognised a need for additional capital works expertise. This included senior management appointments to ensure consistency across the programme, as well as Project Managers and procurement specialists with construction backgrounds.  We also appointed Project Managers to work with end users. These people were a critical link between the project team and the people who would occupy the buildings. They represented the users’ interests and worked closely with the internal construction Project Managers to anticipate resource requirements in areas such as fit-out and relocation planning for staff and students. This is a challenging role but is acknowledged as a success factor by all parts of project delivery. 

A trap to watch out for is building capacity for the building programme, but not the related BAU areas. For example, our Facilities Management team manages our built assets over their lifetime. They were already stretched with normal duties as well as responding to other disaster recovery issues, and this resulted in reduced Facilities Management input into detailed design and value management for the capital works projects. This situation creates a long-term risk around costs associated with building management and maintenance. 

College of Engineering Core fitout

Disaster recovery doesn’t only happen at work 

It is important to remember that people’s wider lives and disaster experiences will impact on their work. They will be dealing with broken homes and frightened children, and many will be grieving for lost family or community members. People are typically fatigued and risk averse, and that may lead to a bias towards adopting apparently easy solutions. 

This applies right from the highest level of governance through to the casual hammer-hand on site. People living in post-disaster communities are in a constant state of heightened stress. Wellbeing monitoring should be part of every organisation’s recovery strategy and should be appropriately resourced.