London 2012 and how the Olympic Games can affect your business

Barry Riley

For the first time since 1948, the Olympics will return to British soil between the 27th July and 12th August 2012; but is your business prepared? Are you aware of just how much of an impact the Games may have on your business operations, and your relationship with your commercial partners and your employees?

The Games will inevitably have a vast effect on many business throughout this period, in any number of potential ways.

Here we take a look at some of the things you may need to be aware of, and flag some of the difficulties you may face in the upcoming months, which you may not have thought about previously.

As the showcase draws ever nearer, have a think about the following, and how, if at all, they might affect your business.

David Baynton

Transport

Throughout the Olympics, London’s transport systems will of course be much busier than usual, particularly during peak hours. Disruptions may even occur just before and just after the main two week period of the Games. If you have sites in London, this could prove to be particularly disruptive to your business, especially if you are based close to the Olympic site itself.

Our best advice would be to review the guidance prepared by London Transport, available here http://www.london2012.com/get-involved/business-network/travel-advice-for-business/pdfs/traveladviceforbusiness-handbook.pdf, which should help, or at least assist, your business and allow you to continue to operate as smoothly as possible during the Olympics.

Volunteering for the Olympics

Several thousand volunteers will help out during the Olympics, some performing key roles. Volunteers are required to commit to at least three days for pre-Olympics training and at least 10 days during the Olympics.

Your business should decide whether employees who volunteer are (a) required to book holiday to carry out their volunteering role, and (b) if so, whether they will be given priority over non-volunteer applicants for annual leave. Alternatively, you could decide to allow volunteers to take paid or unpaid leave to carry out their role.

Whatever approach your business adopts, ensure your:

–  policy is applied consistently and

–  remaining staffing levels are sufficient to meet your business needs.

Corporate hospitality

You should consider issuing appropriate guidance to your staff about how they should deal with any offer of Olympic tickets that they may receive from clients. Alternatively, think about putting a policy in place if you are thinking of offering similar hospitality to your own clients during the Olympics.

Marketing

Businesses that are not official sponsors of the London 2012 games are not permitted to have any association with the Olympics, nor use particular Games marks or terminology.

During the Olympics, specific restrictions on street trading and advertising will apply in areas close to Olympic venues.

Employee travel plans

– Actively encourage staff to consider reducing any non essential travel, particularly at peak times. If it cannot be avoided, encourage the use of alternative routes or different methods of transportation, to try and keep disruption and delay to their journeys down to a minimum.

– What policies do you have in place if your staff are delayed for reasons outside of their control? Presumably they will be asked to make up lost time, but is this a policy you adopt, and have your staff been informed of such requirements, should they experience delays to their journeys? Make sure that they are aware of any such policies, so they cannot plead ignorance later.

Flexible working and home working

–  If you have sites in London, have you thought about altering your business hours to enable your employees to work in a more flexible and innovative manner? Such plans may help to avoid the likely disruptions possible to normal commuting patterns.

–  If this is not possible, make sure you have warned your staff and made them aware that it is their responsibility to make the necessary allowances to their journeys, and ensure they are aware that they are expected to work their normal hours and plan their journeys to accommodate any likely transport delays.

–  Have you thought about letting some of your staff work from home?

–  If you decide to offer either option, you must make sure that the terms of the arrangements are clearly stated to your employees and that they are universally applied.

Holiday requests – time off

–  Many employees may want to take time off during the Olympics, particularly if they have been lucky enough to get hold of tickets for events, which for many, were like gold dust. You will need to think carefully about how to respond to holiday requests (particularly if several employees request the same day off).

–  If you decide to maintain your normal holiday application procedure, without any alterations, remind your staff of the relevant procedures on a regular basis before the Olympics start.

–  If you decide to implement new procedures, you should ensure that they are communicated to your employees well in advance of the start of the Olympics.

Dealing with sickness absence

–  When large sporting events are televised during working hours, sickness absence in the workplace often increases. Employees are often also more likely to stay at home and watch television coverage of the Olympics, if they have a minor illness.

–  Similarly, if you have refused their request for time off to attend an event that they have a ticket for, they may opt to take an unauthorised day off.

–  In the lead up to the Games, make sure that you remind employees of;

(a)    Your absence notification procedures; and

(b)  The disciplinary consequences of taking unauthorised leave.

Watching Olympic events at work

–  One practical way of potentially reducing absences is to allow employees to watch the Olympic events at work.  A lot of businesses find that such a tactic can work well. For example, putting televisions in communal areas, like the staff canteen.

–  You should make your employees aware what your policies are in terms of watching Olympic events at work.

– Are they;

(a)    obliged to make up time spent watching the events at the end of the working day?; and

(b)    allowed to watch or listen to Olympic events on their computer?

Large numbers of employees watching or listening to events simultaneously on the internet may cause problems to your computer systems. Check with your IT team that your set-up can withstand such usage, and determine whether  it is a viable option to allow staff to watch events on their computer.

Also, what if a member of staff opts to watch television coverage on their computer without authority or permission? Do you have an adequate policy in place to deal with such activity? Are your staff aware of the consequences of them doing this?

Commercial deliveries

–  Commercial deliveries are likely  to experience disruptions in the weeks surrounding the Games, with transport restrictions wreaking havoc to usually problem-free operations. For example, around the time of the Olympics, transport restrictions wll be in  force, which means that some deliveries may well need to take place at times when employees don’t usually work, i.e. at night. Are you prepared for this eventuality, if this is something that is likely to affect you?

–  If your business is thinking about the alteration of working hours or shift patterns to deal with out-of-hours deliveries, your employees must be consulted before you make any changes. Ensuring that you obtain your employees’ agreement to any changes is the best way to help avoid any unwanted breach of contract claims in the future.

More information

If you have any queries about the content of this checklist, please contact:

Barry Riley

briley@metcalfes.co.uk

0117 9453 042

OR

David Baynton

dbaynton@metcalfes.co.uk

0117 9453 069

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