With close to five million visitors expected for the Olympic and Paralympic Games – along with stringent security measures and special Olympic lanes reserved for athletes and employees – getting around the capital is likely to be a challenge. Organisations based in London and surrounding areas should not expect business ‘to be as usual’ this summer.
To ensure that your company and employees stay safe and productive, it is essential to have a planned, tested and fully documented business continuity plan in place to make sure your workforce can operate from any location, at any time, with ease and efficiency.
A recent survey found that 88 percent of small businesses plan to offer their employees the option to work from home during the Olympics. However, over half of those surveyed did not feel confident that their company’s IT infrastructure is capable of supporting the number of remote workers expected during the Games.
Here are some tips for ensuring seamless business practices during the Olympics:
1. Preparation is paramount
To help ensure that your employees are prepared for inevitable travel disruptions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, share information on expected delays as soon as possible. Take the time to find out how your employees will be affected and plan preventative measures to minimise the risk of disruption to your business.
2. Invest in the right technology
Web and cloud technology can dramatically simplify remote working, and most solutions include free or inexpensive options. Remote access software provides fast, easy remote access to work computers, applications and files from home computers and even smartphones and iPads. Online meeting and screen sharing services help maintain a collaborative office environment between colleagues and clients in different locations, while cloud data storage and sharing products make it simple to collaborate on projects and access work-related files from virtually any computer or device.
3. Set a remote working policy
From increasingly inexpensive netbooks and laptops to free remote access, the technical and cost barriers to entry for remote working are almost non-existent. However, by setting a remote working policy, businesses can help employees understand when it’s acceptable to work remotely, what’s expected of them while doing so, and best practices for productivity and job satisfaction.
4. Practice makes perfect
Consider a practice run, where a group of employees work from home for a day – or even a week – in the lead-up to the Olympics. This will help identify any teething problems and establish what preparation is needed, as well as best practices and etiquette for working remotely during the Games.
5. Promote the benefits
Ensure your employees are aware of the benefits offered through remote working and how to make the most of them. Research has shown that companies who support flexible working are more likely to attract and retain staff.
Of course, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are putting a spotlight on the remote working concept, but for many, it may simply prove to be the test case needed to extend such benefits beyond a single point in time. In a recent survey of my company’s small business customers, 70 percent of respondents said they would consider allowing employees to work from home on a more regular basis, citing increased productivity (29%), staff motivation (32%) and a better work-life balance (38%) as the top three driving factors for allowing employees to work from home.
Julian Small, owner of Smallworld IT – a UK-based IT outsourcing company which provides remote support capabilities to small businesses in London and the surrounding areas – agrees with our survey findings, citing employer benefits as a major reason for his customers to implement remote working: “The Olympic Games is just one of many reasons for considering remote working facilities. The implementation of an ongoing flexible working scheme can help counteract the negative effects of unexpected interruptions such as public transport strikes, and also allows small businesses to gain access to a far wider talent pool.”
It seems clear, then, that now is the right time for small business owners to start thinking more seriously about the benefits of implementing a successful remote working scheme for the long term. So, what are you waiting for?