Work from home to avoid the Olympic queues

Q&A: London 2012 TIME TO GET READY

Q. WE ARE IN AN OLYMPIC HOTSPOT AREA AND HAVE STARTED SPEAKING TO OUR EMPLOYEES ABOUT OUR PLANS THROUGHOUT THE GAMES. NONE OF OUR EMPLOYEES CURRENTLY WORK FROM HOME AND ALTHOUGH THIS SEEMS TO BE A VIABLE OPTION, WE’RE NOT SURE WHERE TO START. WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST?

A. During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the transport network will be much busier than normal. This will have a big impact on employees, particularly when they are travelling to and from work. Businesses should start planning now to minimise disruption and ensure their business continues to run smoothly in the run up, and during, the Games.

Flexible and remote working is a viable option for many organisations and will allow businesses to reduce travel during the Games. As a first step, businesses should work with their staff as early as possible. Tools for planning staff travel next summer are available to download via the website: www.london2012/traveladviceforbusiness. This includes a survey businesses can use to understand their employees’ travel habits and top tips on how they can start planning now.

Current technology enables businesses to provide this option to staff that will otherwise face long journeys to work during the Games. Review your current equipment and internal policies so that you can manage requests to work from home quickly and easily.

You can also create a secure private network, so employees can access the intranet and internally hosted files and data from home. Broadband internet access is essential and audio conferencing facilities can be useful, so staff can continue to communicate remotely with colleagues and external contacts from home.

BT encourages flexible working and has found that home workers are 20 per cent more productive than office-based colleagues and also take less sick leave. It has reduced its office costs and as it offers a flexible working environment, it has retained more staff therefore saving on recruitment costs.

More than 70,000 of BT’s staff are equipped to work flexibly and around 13,000 work from home. Telephone conferencing also eliminates an estimated 859,784 face-to-face meetings a year for BT, and a survey of their staff found 81 per cent now see conferencing as an essential tool that they could not perform as well without.

Enabling home working will add value to your employee benefits package and provide them with a facility they can use during the Games and beyond. Start planning now to ensure your employees enjoy the Games and that your business is able to maximise the opportunities the Games will bring.

For more advice, please visit the London 2012 Travel Advice for Business website (www.london2012/traveladviceforbusiness). It offers a wealth of information and businesses can sign up for regular updates to help prepare for the Games.