Its now nine weeks until the 2012 London Olympics start. For most of London (and indeed the UK as a whole) there is little chance of watching any Olympic Event live. However, for many who work or live in London, the Olympics are going to be a major feature of this summer. [For Olympics, also read Paralympics].
The Government have been bombarding businesses in London with information about the likely effects of the Olympics on the ability of businesses to operate.
For example at http://www.getaheadofthegames.com/travel-advice-for-business/support-advice-and-tools.html the following advice is provided.
Helping your business and staff
Your business will face new challenges during the Games. This may affect staff travel to and from work, as well as business travel. Make sure staff are aware of the transport challenges they face and communicate advice and any changes you are making to your operations. There are some simple steps you and your staff can take to prepare:
Reduce non essential trips and minimise disruption to your staff, visitors and suppliers:
- Encourage staff to work from home or an alternative location
- Allow staff to work compressed weeks, for example, work five ‘normal’ days compressed into four longer days
- If possible, encourage staff to take annual leave
- Reduce the number of journeys made during the working day
- Where possible, use alternative methods for meetings, like conference calls, video conferencing and web conferencing
Retime essential journeys to avoid busy periods:
- Change working hours so staff avoid the busiest times on transport networks
- If possible, change core hours of operation
- Stagger staff start and finish times to provide flexibility
- Schedule appointments for less busy times of the day
- Shift meetings to less busy days
Reroute essential journeys to avoid busy areas:
- Avoid busy stations and roads during the Games
- Finding alternative meeting points that are less affected by the Games will make things easier for you
The emphasis on the above is mine.
The problems will be caused by huge extra numbers of passengers on the already over crowded public transport in London. Already at rush hour, stations have to be closed in Central London to reduce congestion and ensure public safety. This is a regular issue at Holborn Tube Station which is the one nearest our offices. On the roads, lots of roads will have one out of two lanes closed for so called “VIP” use. This will, in East London reduce the capacity of the main arteries by 50%. The roads are already congested at rush hour, so its going to be much worse when the capacity is reduced by 50%. This is going to make it far more dangerous to cycle to work.
The situation near our work offices is worse, because there are a number of hotels nearby that will be housing the Olympic bigwigs, so roads will be closed and or turns banned. Just getting to work will be difficult.
Now, given that I work for a governmental body, you would think that they may have made some plans wouldn’t you? Well, Treasury Solicitors with who we share a building ran an exercise in February to test out alternative ways of working or getting to work. This included working from different venues, working at home, encouraging people to try alternative forms of travel to work.
My employers seemingly buried their heads in the sand at that time. No planning exercises have been carried out.
As we are involved in Inspecting the CPS, this often entails up being on site at CPS offices. It would perhaps have been sensible to arrange inspections out of London so as to reduce the burden of travel on Inspectors would it not? Seemingly this idea has been ruled out, with all London based inspectors being required to be in our London offices file reading during the Olympic period. This therefore means we will need to travel into Central London each day during the Olympics.
Repeated requests have been made to the management team as to what the plans are for the organisation during the Olympics and for staff to get too or from the office. The following email was sent this week to all staff on behalf of the management:
Further to asking all staff to share their view of the impact of the Olympics on travel arrangements please find below a link which will hopefully take you to the TSol website which gives various updates on the outcomes of their Trial Week
Generally it is still too soon to gauge how HMCPSI staff will be affected, however we are confident that we will be able to deliver a satisfactory service to our stakeholders.
This is to include external organisations as well as internal teams (e.g. CSG who deliver services to colleagues).
So, it appears that this government department is burying its head in the sand an is still avoiding making any provisions for the Olympic period. No mention of working from home, no mention of alternative working hours or practices, no mention of anything. So much for Government advice. This government body seems to ignore the same.
The link to the Tsol website is of little use as it talks about working from home etc. – none of which we are able to do.
The line “Generally it is still too soon to gauge how HMCPSI staff will be affected” is incredible. It is nine weeks until the games start. At what point do the ostriches think it won’t be too soon to gauge or plan for the effect of the Olympics on HMCPSI staff?
It is nice to know that HMCPSI staff are only interested in the service they will provide, not how the Olympics will affect staff.
Government advice on planning for the Olympics is clearly not meant to be acted upon by government bodies! Or is it just that somebodies have ostriches for their management team?