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Most businesses will have already set up plans to deal with the knock-on effects of the Olympic Games, whether it’s coping with disruption to delivery schedules or expected staff absences. So with just over a month left to the start of the Games and visitors already starting to arrive, we’ve come up with a last minute business survival guide.
One of the hardest aspects to such preemptive planning is that this is the first time we’ve run around this particular block since 1948, and the UK was a very different place 64 years ago. So we just don’t know what kind of levels of disruption to expect. What we do know is likely stress areas, such as transport — be that air, rail, or road, internet connections, and all general amenities and facilities are going to be stretched to their limits as they accommodate the influx. Will they snap? Will they break? The important thing is to make sure your company does neither by addressing such areas as staffing, premises, technology, supplies and stakeholders.
Here we've listed the key battle plan areas:
Starting with staff, managers must build in generally higher levels of absence as annual holidays and requests for time off to attend the games must be expected. And on top of those, expect and plan for normal working hours to be changed around to avoid the heavy pressure on transport services and concomitant delays. As part of your planning, be aware that spectators are likely to start arriving at venues up to two hours before each event is scheduled to start and that following each event the first half hour is estimated to be the busiest time.
Companies could well be set back by supply chain disruption caused by blocking of transportation networks, warns Tony Culpin, Human Resources Manager, Client Services at Mazars. “Those businesses whose supplies come through London are likely to face considerable disruption to their operations. Moreover, parking restrictions close to Olympic venues are likely to be increased, meaning some businesses may have to arrange night-time deliveries.”
Culpin also warns that with staff booking holidays to either attend Olympic and Paralympic events or escape the country completely, it is likely many businesses will be working at less than full capacity from late July to mid-September. “This could mean difficulties in sourcing key components, which will then have an impact on productivity in the final quarter of 2012.” Culpin adds that one possible solution might be to plan ahead by ordering extra stock in early summer.
Companies which can accommodate home-working schedules are being encouraged to do so. In fact, the private sector is urged to follow the example of the government who’ve announced that up to 40% of Whitehall staff are being allowed to work from home for the full seven weeks this summer. Companies will find that home-working arrangements will alleviate transport delays and flexi-time schedules can be shared among key staff thus further easing the pressures expected on internet connections.
Internet service providers (ISPs) may well introduce data caps during peak periods as a way of spreading the loading. Contacting your ISP providers is recommended to find out what kind of service will be provided during the Games season and how they intend to manage peak demand. Some businesses may want to upgrade their network to increase bandwidth. Culpin makes a key point on IT capacity management. “Many businesses have IT policies in place which prohibit personal use of the internet, employers need to consider how strictly such a policy will be enforced. In the event the policy is relaxed in order to allow staff to view key events, businesses will also need to ensure they have sufficient IT capacity to ensure this ‘extra usage’ does not impact on their business activity.”
Also, while additional capacity and coverage for mobile phone networks will be put in place around Games venues to support a ‘normal’ service during each event, businesses are advised that at times of peak demand mobile networks will be slowed down by the higher volumes of traffic. Voice, email and low-data traffic is unlikely to be adversely affected, but difficulties must be expected if downloading larger content.
If the Games are opening up significant business opportunities for your company, recruiting temporary staff to accommodate the additional work and manage staff annual leave needs to be planned for. Remember, this year demand for staff may outstrip supply. Culpin warns that temporary staff in areas such as catering, driving and security will be particularly sought after.
Finally, if your business does have to implement such marked changes to ensure a smooth-running organisation this summer, run over the details with your insurers. It may be that the policy needs updating for this period to cover issues such as staff working at different premises, company computers being used in different locations, additional stock being held, new premises to be added to the policy, and new staff taken on during this period. Don’t leave your business unprotected.
We've gathered a list of the summer Olympic Games venues both inside and outside of London, as well as key links to check out daily announcements. Check them out using the following three links.
1. Around London Games venues:
2. Out of London Olympic Games venues:
Check out days and locations of possible disruption at these sites: