The London Olympics and the Paralympics which follow it are steadily becoming the dominant topic of conversation in the capital and beyond. Transport for London have warned of as many as 10 million extra people coming in during the 6 week period covering the events – and probably for some time either side of it and lengthy delays in travelling around the city, whether by train, tube, car or even on foot.
There is much speculation on how this will impact on the workplace. Many of our clients are giving thought to reminding managers on the importance of effective and fair coordination of holiday requests and also tight management of absence from work policies. Some are bowing to what they see as the inevitable and screening major events at work. If it works for your business, the introduction of some flexibility into working arrangements may be the most effective way to negotiate the period – staggering arrival and departure times focussing on employees delivering on their weekly hours obligations within wider parameters than usual.
What works best for each business will vary but here are three important considerations to bear in mind:
- Consistency: if you are temporarily relaxing rules be sure you adopt a consistent approach across the workforce.
- Equality: following on from the above, be sure you are not inadvertently discriminating against sections of your workforce. Only screening events at work which are perceived important to British competitors could prove problematic from the point of view of those whose ethnic origin is outside the UK. A similar issue arises with coverage of the Paralympics for disabled people.
- Period specific: if you are changing working arrangements to accommodate the Olympics/Paralympics make sure it is clearly spelled out that it is for this and this alone. Allowing people to work at home, for example, may give rise to requests for that to continue into the future.
There are plenty of commentators who are prophesying disaster for employers. We don’t think so – with some careful planning and dialogue with staff it should be possible to ensure that the Olympics/Paralympics are accommodated while minimising business disruption.
For further information or to discuss the issues raised, please contact David Widdowson on +44 (0)20 3051 5711.