UK Businesses must plan for the Olympics 2012

With a massive influx of tourists, threats to security, potential terrorist attacks and road closures, the London Olympic Games will have a huge effect on the UK. Frontier Technology, The City of London Corporation and Citrix have recently hosted a seminar to update businesses on the potential impacts of Games, so they can plan ahead for every eventuality.


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The seminar was attended by a mixed group of businesses including legal firms, financial services, media organisations and charities. With millions people expected to come to the UK for the Olympics, the delegates’ biggest issue was staff transportation into and out of work. It is unlikely that the Olympics Organisation will schedule events outside of the rush hour, so there will be a huge strain on the UK’s transport networks. Delegates discussed remote working and agreed that a flexible workforce would help to combat this problem and the associated revenue loss. There are however, inevitably key members of staff who will need to be present in the office. Nick Brook, Head of Facilities, Mills & Reeve LLP was in Australia during the Sydney Olympics 2000. One of the many methods his former company used to reduce the impact of the Games was to stagger shifts so there was an early and late pattern. This proved very successful and helped to maintain business productivity.

Delegates were particularly apprehensive about employees that commute from outside-into London, as the major stations are set to be exceptionally busy during the Games. Many London hotels are already fully booked so it is unlikely that non-London based staff will find it easy to stay in the capital at this time. One firm commented that they were not allowing staff from non-London based offices to venture into the city during the Games.

‘Staff transportation into work is the biggest business concern around the Olympic Games 2012′

HR policies were another area that featured highly on the agenda. Few of the present companies had a clear idea of their policies around staff holidays during the Olympics. Obviously the main event coupled with additional celebrations, will mean that staff of all roles and levels will want to participate. Additionally there may be other members who will want to volunteer. Delegates expressed their need to formulate a strategy which would eliminate increased staff absences and sick days.

Joanna Massingham-Lamprell, Facilities Manager, Price Forbes and Partners “We are anticipating considerable staff excitement around the Games. There are many aspects for businesses to consider – how to continue as best as possible with business as usual, together with HR policies and feasibility of existing continuity arrangements”

The large mobile phone and internet providers will be increasing their services throughout the UK during the Games, however the attendees expressed concerns. Most are anticipating a loss of mobile phone reception, broadband and potential power outages. Any of these events could prove catastrophic to business and may result in lost data.

Gareth Jones, Frontier Technology commented, “Business Continuity is essential at any time but especially during a major event such as the Olympic Games. If there is a business disaster, having retrievable data and near-instant access to your applications and information can ensure that your firm does not experience a significant loss in revenue. We at Frontier Technology provide hosted business continuity; our data centres are located in Milton Keynes and Maidenhead. London is one of the areas most likely to be targeted by terrorism so we deliberately placed our centres outside of the capital to provide extra safety.”

Overall most of the firms present felt that there would be a general reduction in sales and lost revenue during the games. It was concluded that it would not be ‘business as usual’ for any UK firm at this time.

‘A loss of data will be catastrophic for any firm of any size’

Paul Eskriett, Principal Security and Contingency Planning Advisor from The City of London Corporation spoke in detail at the meeting and highlighted the importance of Olympics resilience planning. With less than 680 days left until the Games begin, he stressed the importance for UK wide businesses to plan ahead “There are 9 million tickets for the Olympic Games, massive movements of people, training camps UK wide, road closures and a huge number of commercial events occurring; it will not be business as usual”

During the Olympic Games 2012 period from the opening of the Athletes Village on 15th July to the closing of the Paralympics on the 16th September 2012. The population of London will rise by approximately 2 million people at any one time. It is important to manage the risks. Eskriett emphasised that it was the country’s aim to deliver a safe and secure Games, in keeping with the Olympic culture and spirit. London already has a good infrastructure to deal with terrorism and other threats, currently each council is identifying and filling any gaps before The Games to begin. Terrorism and other threats will be constantly monitored on a daily basis.

With event being just under two years away, there are significant areas that have yet to be finalised and therefore gaps in information. Businesses should however expect road closures and numerous cultural events throughout the country which will influence business.

Eskriett stressed that the Olympic Games will be huge and will affect what all of us do between now and 2012. In order to prepare he advised firms to review security and contingency planning and carefully look at their existing plans in the context of the Games time.

Paul Eskriett, Principal Security and Contingency Planning Advisor from The City of London Corporation “Firms must review security and contingency plans in the context of The Games”

A few attendees had experienced an Olympics Games before; they advised others to plan far in advance and for every possibility. It is important to bulk up on office equipment and essential to thoroughly asses all third-party suppliers. From past experience they found it valuable to get staff involved with the celebrations. Many organisations will be buying more televisions for the office- it was agreed that this will help to manage staff absence.

In order to address staff transportation issues, Alex Hill, Partner Readiness, Citrix spoke about remote working and recommended XenDesktop. The technology allows users to access desktops and applications from any location or device. In fact logging in remotely can be used to ensure that staff are safe and secure in the event of a disaster. Employees can be urged to log-in at a certain time and afterwards a check can be made to ensure they are on the system. XenDesktop is completely secure, complies with the data protection act and adheres to most compliance regulations.

Alex commented: “In conjunction with Citrix Access Gateway, you can set policies that control whether data ever leaves the datacenter. It can dramatically improve endpoint security by eliminating the need for data to reside on user devices.”

Finally delegates were advised to start planning now for the Olympic Games 2012. Ensuring that you have a seamless business continuity plan and remote working facilities in place are a good place to start. Firms need to look at their current plans and enhance them to ensure that they are safeguarded for every eventuality during the London Olympic Games 2012.

For more information about the Olympic Games 2012, contingency planning and remote working, please contact Divina Tumlos on 0845 603 6552 or email divina.tumlos@frontiertechnology.co.uk