Olympics rings alarm bells for business

With 12 months to go, the Olympics PR bandwagon has already kicked in. Be afraid, be very afraid...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 20 Jun 2013
In the first bout of doom-mongering we’re being warned of the negative effect that the thrill of watching people running, jumping and chucking stuff will have on people’s attendance at work. According to recruiter Badenoch & Clark, 16% of workers admit they’d consider chucking a sickie to watch the Games. That number goes up to 28% of 16-34 year olds.

The cause of this semi-apocalyptic image of work 2012, where everyone under the age of 34 has been enticed out of the office and into the capital’s vast stadia by the siren-like grunts of weightlifters? 79.9% of employers haven’t sorted out a London 2012 leave policy yet, which Badenoch & Clark reckons leads to uncertainty among employees with tickets as to whether they’ll be allowed to go. Not wishing to come down like a downpour of play-stopping common sense here, but we reckon with a year to go your average business should be able to sort something out.

Yet it seems those who find themselves strangely immune will have other battles to contend with: not least actually continuing to function while the Games are on.

Here at least businesses have been more proactive. Bankers, lawyers and retailers have been quickest off the blocks in preparing for the conditions brought by the coming of the sport: 61 finance firms, representing over 180,000 employees, have signed up for free travel advice for business from dedicated London 2012 travel advisors, joined in the trailing pack by 28 law firms, 13 retailers and nine management consultants.

The surprising thing is that these figures come from Transport for London itself. Perhaps it’s adopted the tactic of second-guessing the amount of chaos that’s going to strike the capital, just so it can blame other people’s lack of planning when everything invariably goes off the rails (which is incidentally set to be day three of the Games, the first Monday, currently being built up to be the sporting equivalent of the Rapture).

The TFL-backed advice sessions may seem like they’re taking it a bit far, but may well come in handy if the situation is as everyone’s making out. They cover such useful areas as optimising deliveries, servicing and freight; planning staff business travel during busy periods; forecasting customer and visitor movements during the Games; and tips to help firms maintain service continuity.

All potentially useful stuff. The bad news is that according to TFL, only one company from sectors including charities, manufacturing and telecoms have so far signed up for advice. But with 12 months to go, we can’t help thinking even the slowest of firms will have plenty of time to catch up. Now, can we all just chill out and enjoy the Games?

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