by Julian Goldsmith

So, what happened to the Olympics gridlock?

Aug 09, 20124 mins
IT Leadership

There was much talk in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic games of the disruption to business the event will cause. We’ve been inundated with press releases on the subject from IT vendors with offerings that ease the transition to remote working. Others have warned that those workers still in the office will be watching the Games all day, if their online activities aren’t properly monitored.

Anecdotally, the travel disruption in London does not appear to have happened and my office appears as busy as any other August week.

Yes, many of my workmates have chosen to book their holidays over the last couple of weeks, but it’s the summer holidays and many of them with children would have waited till now to take time off anyway. Contingencies have been made to cover their absence, just as they have every year at this time.

Those at work who are lucky enough to have tickets for specific events have left early or come in late to see them and made up the work in other times. As far as I know there wasn’t any company memo about this, people just made their arrangements with their managers and got on with it like responsible adults.

In my immediate workgroup, one person is working from home while the games are on, but she is heavily pregnant and is having her own difficulties getting around, not related to the Games. Our operational systems are mostly web based, so there is no problem with remote access to them.

The level of activity from external collaborators with CIO UK does not seem to have abated, but no one has found it necessary to set up video conferencing sessions because they can’t travel around.

I haven’t made my way to the eastern side of London, where the Games are held, but no one I know, who has been there, has complained of unbearable waits for trains or buses. I have travelled across West London and it’s unpleasant but no more so than any other summer month.

Inside the office, people have been watching the events, live over the internet. But, the atmosphere is industrious and those of us who are getting on with necessary tasks are not disturbed by the sports fans sitting beside them. Occasionally Team GB will win another medal and there is some cheering, but pretty soon everyone gets back to work. The occasional delight has actually lifted the spirit of the workplace and it’s actually more pleasant to work there as a result.

CIO Towers is very mobile workplace and employees are always off site for face-to-face meetings with clients and contacts, so we are well used to flexible and remote working. It is located in central London, so it is easy to slip out for a couple of hours to see an event and then go back to work for the rest of the day.

Much of our systems are web-based, because that is the business model of the company, so we’ve not had to make any extra investments to give people remote access.

Other business with other models and locations won’t have those luxuries, but I think the real reason why the office has adapted to the Games so well is the relaxed and trusting attitude of the management to let employees enjoy the event while they are at work without feeling the need to make a fuss about it.

I hope other organisations are experiencing the same mature approach by their management and that this, rather than a rush to invest in remote working technology, is the lasting dividend that the Olympic Games has brought to the workplace.