Is your business ready for the Olympics?

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With the countdown on to the London 2012 festivities, small businesses are being advised to plan ahead to ensure they do not suffer from the disruption caused by the Games.

Businesses gearing up for this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in London might wish to review their online backup services ahead of the big event in case they are left on the back foot by problems such as increased commuting times, gridlock on the capital’s roads and slower broadband as demand rises.

According to research from Cisco, if your firm has yet to make contingency plans to deal with problems as they arise, you are not alone: 41 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises questioned said they do not have any strategies in place to deal with potential disruptions caused by the Games.

Neil Crockett, managing director of the network group, commented: "With so many SMEs still unprepared ahead of the Games, now is the time for businesses to take action. London 2012 can offer many opportunities for UK SMEs, but only if they have the correct business strategy in place.

"Organisations need to prepare in a wide manner of ways to ensure they are business ready – from evaluating their network infrastructure to preparing for flexible working through effective collaboration technology," he pointed out.

Cisco’s research also found that more than one in five (22 per cent) small businesses expect the celebrations will impact on their staff numbers, while 14 per cent are considering how they will be encouraging employee motivation this summer, so that the few weeks when the Games are held will not affect productivity.

"The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games can and will offer a lasting legacy to those businesses who understand the necessary preparations. With a viable business strategy, alternative travel plans and flexible working in place, London 2012 can help build a brilliant future for businesses next summer and in the long term," added Mr Crockett.

Meanwhile, companies based in the capital have been warned that internet services could drop out during the Games, which highlights the importance of having disaster recovery plans in place to prevent businesses from losing out financially or damaging their reputation.

Guidance from the Cabinet Office suggests internet service providers may implement data caps during peak times to ensure their customer base receives a more equal service, although ISPs have not yet confirmed this will be the case.

Separate research from the Federation of Small Businesses suggests that six in ten micro companies do not see any positive consequences for their business prospects arising from the Olympics, with 25 per cent believing that the Games will impact negatively on their bottom line.

With demand for road, tube and overground rail services in London predicted to rise significantly for the duration of the Games, companies could implement remote working policies so that their staff will not have to commute to the office on busy days.

One way to do this is to invest in electronic document storage so workers can access important information from wherever they are, and to try videoconferencing software to enable employees to communicate with each other outside of the office.

Jon Knight, audio visual expert at Smarterinteractive.co.uk, explained that videoconferencing can be worthwhile for companies that have more than one office or location to run, or have staff working from home.

Even government workers are being expected to change their working patterns during London 2012, having recently been part of a four-day trial to see whether it is possible for civil servants to work from home.

With up to 800,000 spectators and 55,000 competitors and officials travelling to Olympic venues every day this summer, other small businesses may be wise to think now about how they will deal with the disruption of the Games.

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