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UK companies unprepared for London 2012


With fewer than 1,000 days to the start of London 2012, the majority of UK companies are unprepared for how the Games will impact their business and staff, according to a new survey by BT Global Services.

Almost half (44 per cent) of board-level executives surveyed said they are unaware activities will be happening in their area. This is despite the fact that the Games are due to take place in 34 venues across the UK, including, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Weymouth, while over 600 athletes training camps will be stationed nationwide.

The number of people using public transport is expected to rise to 800,000* during the busiest day of the Games – equivalent to the entire population of Leeds – and approximately 300,000 foreign visitors are due to stay in Britain during this time. It is therefore vital that UK companies take the necessary steps to minimise disruption.
A third of companies surveyed said they had not yet made assessments for how the Games would affect their staff, while just 13 per cent have set in place provisions to ensure that any resulting increase in workflow can be managed carefully.

Only 22 per cent of businesses have a fully-implemented, flexible working policy in place. Of those that do not have a policy, nearly half are unsure whether it is achievable to install flexible working technologies in time, so that staff could work from home or elsewhere during the Games.

Mark Quartermaine, President of BT Global Services UK Markets, said: “The Games will have an impact on nearly every business in the UK and, by using technology to support remote or flexible working, those businesses will not only be prepared for the situation, but will also be able to really take advantage of it. There are long term benefits too - our own flexible workforce has saved BT £500m in building costs and 100,000 tonnes of CO2. We have also seen a 30 per cent rise in productivity, so the return on investment is there to see.”

With more than 9.2 million* tickets expected to be sold for the Games, customer contact centres will also be under pressure to cope with huge call volumes 24 hours a day, and even to support multilingual inquiries. Yet despite a third of retailers expecting an increase in call centre volumes during the Games, less than half (44 per cent) have made provisions for this.

Despite the lack of flexible working policies in place, the overwhelming majority of businesses recognise the benefits of having a flexible workforce. Safety and security are key to this with 94 per cent of those surveyed believing a successful policy could support their business continuity plans. The majority also said it would help minimise the effects of transport disruption (73 per cent), pandemics (66 per cent) and natural disasters (64 per cent).

The report highlights further advantages that a flexible working policy can bring, including improved productivity, reduced costs and attracting and keeping talented employees. Some 65 per cent of businesses agreed it would help their people achieve a better work/life balance and more than half (55 per cent) felt it would ultimately result in happier staff.

Some businesses are adopting a short term approach to the Games. Less than a third (27 per cent) of those that will have a flexible working policy in time for the games said they will not continue once the athletes have gone home.

Vanson Bourne’s joint MD, Graham Opie, said: “This survey shows that most businesses in the UK do see the advantages of having a flexible workforce. However many of them are yet to realise those advantages and don’t recognise the long term benefits that flexible working could have.

*Games data from


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