Built Environment Resilience in Focus

Even before the full ramifications of the coronavirus were evident, BSI research shows that construction industry leaders’ confidence in the resilience of their organizations had faltered for the first time since 2017. Andy Butterfield, Managing Director for Built Environment at BSI, explains.

Towards the end of 2019, BSI published its annual Organizational Resilience Index, the third such survey of business leaders worldwide. The study could hardly have been more timely, coming just a few weeks ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it highlights key challenges that influence the long-term ability of an organization to survive, thrive and prosper.

Overall findings

The Organizational Resilience Index provides a powerful, data-driven insight into what 805 global company bosses see as their own business’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Index finds that, across all sectors, Innovation, Horizon Scanning and Adaptive Capacity have the greatest impact on Organizational Resilience, but that relative performance in these areas has declined over the last 12 months.

Overall, it also reveals that business leaders are struggling to adapt to the introduction of new technology amid political and economic uncertainty. Those surveyed in the report identify technology as both the greatest opportunity and the most severe threat to their success.

Construction industry concerns – and change

Now, of course, the further impact of COVID-19 threatens some sobering outcomes for a number of industries, not least the global Built Environment sector.

Every part of the sector has been affected by the pandemic, with damaging impacts reverberating across the globe. It’s not just developers and building firms that are losing out on business, but a myriad of companies in the supply chain, from construction products manufacturers and raw material suppliers to architects, engineers and consultants. Many organizations also face a cashflow crisis, having geared up for high levels of activity, they are now suddenly forced to apply the brakes.

Disrupted supply chains, site closures, halted production lines and a reduced cashflow are very different business challenges for built environment industry leaders, highlighting the constant need for them to question how resilient their organizations really are.

Alongside helping them to manage and mitigate varied risks, the aspiration to achieve organizational resilience will strengthen their ability to grasp opportunities.

Even in a crisis, opportunities can still arise, but looking beyond recent events, the sector is being transformed by digital solutions. Centered around the exchange and automation of data, this wave of digital transformation moves physical assets from static structures into connected ecosystems. Technology, like Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Building Information Modelling (BIM), is improving the way buildings are designed, made and maintained as they allow for communication between human and machine, and machines with each other.

BSI’s Organizational Resilience Index

BSI’s Organizational Resilience Index can provide deeper insight by indicating the built environment industry’s performance in the key aspects of resilience, and then by highlighting the impact of these aspects on the sector.

The responses of leaders in the industry have enabled BSI to benchmark the resilience of their organization through the impact of – and their perceived performance in – 16 core elements of their business, ranging from Financial Aspects to levels of Community Engagement.

Note that this is a ‘relative’ study. Leaders may well think all 16 core elements have an impact on their business, but they do not see them as having an equal impact and have ranked them accordingly. Similarly, they perceive variations in performance between the 16 elements, again resulting in a ranking.

Using the rankings, we can gauge organizations’ resilience in two ways: first, and most obviously, by seeing where they perform relatively well; second, and perhaps more significantly, by focusing on how well they perform in the elements that have most impact on their business.

Top five resilience ranking for the Built Environment Industry


62 of the 805 organizations surveyed identified their area of operations as in the aerospace industry

Built environment industry leaders regard their best performance to be in Financial Management, a reassuring result in the light of recent events, as is their strong showing for Leadership.

Leadership and Adaptive Capacity are seen as having the most impact in maintaining Organizational Resilience in this sector. The Index suggests that an increase in the disruptive effects of technology, as outlined above, are the driving force behind the Adaptive Capacity agenda. From building design and construction projects to infrastructure development and ongoing asset management, this long-term trend seems certain to continue.

Where are your strengths and weaknesses?

It falls to boards and individual leaders to build organizational resilience at both a strategic and operational level. There are tools to help, from construction industry-specific standards to broader certifications for disciplines such as business continuity management and information security management, as well for Organizational Resilience itself.

To find out your organization’s relative strengths and weaknesses – and how you compare with the organizations behind the BSI Organizational Resilience Index – complete the BSI Organizational Resilience Benchmark tool, a simple questionnaire located online at www.bsigroup.com/organizational-resilience.

This tool will present your results in a spider diagram. It will allow you to compare how you perceive your performance in the 16 core elements against the overall benchmark results.

If, in light of your results, you want to investigate further through a more comprehensive comparison against others in the survey, please contact us at Organizational-Resilience@bsigroup.com.