Game excuses

Firms unveil their tactics for dealing with the Olympic rush hour

Everything gets overstated amid the buzz of an event like the Olympics. The Family and Parenting Institute charity, for instance, has predicted that this summer’s Games will be a watershed moment for flexible working practices in the UK.

But a quick survey of law firms’ plans shows no signs of a home-working revolution. Firms have clearly put thought into how they will carry on business as usual once the City becomes flooded with all the lucrative nuisances, though.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the official law firm of the Games, held travel disruption sessions in May, but has only said it “may be appropriate” in some cases for a team member to work from home on a particular day. “Flexible working requests during the Games would usually be considered informally due to the short length of time [the arrangement] would be in place, but would be subject to the usual considerations about staffing numbers,” it added.

Eversheds said it has improved its remote working technology for staff to work shifts or at home and is discouraging any non-essential trips to London.
Berwin Leighton Paisner will “have flexible working all around the Olympics as long as staff have laptops and can work from home”.

Herbert Smith polled its staff and found that, of those who responded (over half the London office), 60 per cent had event tickets. It set up an Olympics intranet site to keep staff informed of travel disruption and said it will offer the option to work at home or in shifts. The firm also said it will offer only two three-week vacation schemes this summer instead of the usual three, although the groups will be bigger.

DAC Beachcroft is the only firm that said it did not want staff to work from home due to reports that broadband networks may suffer during the Games. It is, however, encouraging London staff in particular to take time off.

It is all fair enough, but hardly a watershed moment. But then, if Britons can put up with decades of God-awful public transport, a few weeks of sport are hardly going to change working habits.