One-third of businesses to allow flexible working for Olympics

One-third of large companies plan to allow staff to work flexibly during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to research from Deloitte.

Thirty-two per cent of companies surveyed said that they would be happy for employees to take time off work to see the games and catch up on lost hours at the beginning and end of the day, with 44% saying that they would encourage staff to attend the games.

Heather Hancock, London 2012 lead partner at Deloitte, says that it is important for businesses to think about the policies that they will put in place for the period of the Olympics sooner rather than later: “They will need to consider how they are going to manage the potential increased demand for annual leave during the games period. They will also need to carefully consider how they can help employees manage their working practices to accommodate flexible or remote working, ensuring business needs are met while facilitating a games experience.”

The research also shows that 42% of companies intend to install screens in communal areas of the workplace, so that staff can watch the games live with colleagues. More than one-third of respondents implied that they intend to go to the games, either as individuals or with clients or colleagues.

Head of HR at Deloitte Steven Rolls said that organisations can create a “great feel-good factor” by having a “reasonable, open minded approach” to staff wishing to take time off work to watch Olympic events. He also emphasised the potential business benefits of doing so, saying: “Where businesses are prepared to be innovative, London 2012 may present an opportunity for enhanced employee engagement through themed incentives or the opportunity to trial new working practices.”

The research showed that 29% of organisations do not plan to allow staff to watch the games during the working day, although this may reflect the fact that flexible work is more difficult in certain industries than others. Rolls also said that it would be “essential for companies to find the right balance and ensure there is no impact on client service levels”.

Sixty per cent of respondents do not expect to make any changes to their flexible working policies. Eleven per cent of London respondents are going to encourage staff to work further away from games venues in client sites and 8% will allow more people to work from home. Thirty per cent say that due to the Olympics they would be more understanding of people arriving to work late.

XpertHR has further information on employees’ right to request flexible working.

XpertHR also has information on how to manage requests for flexible working.

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