'Stress test' highlights transport fears

Posted at 06/18/12 5:51 PM

LONDON - London businesses that tested alternative working arrangements last month in preparation for this summer's Olympic Games suffered problems with technology and travel arrangements, a survey showed.

A "stress test" in which more than 100 companies asked staff to experiment with remote working or changes to their journeys failed to dispel concerns about how smoothly the capital will function during the Games, which run from July 27 to August 12.

Nearly 80 percent of the companies that took part said they were confident they could cope with the impact of the Games, business services group Deloitte said.

However, it noted that companies conscientious enough to join the test were likely to be among the best prepared.

"That some companies experienced difficulties indicates the need for companies to be thorough in their planning and testing, and not take these changes for granted," said Mark Naysmith, Games readiness director at Deloitte.

"Questions do still remain for the wider business community about whether they are ready or not."

The government wants to use the Olympics to help to showcase British business and is hoping the Games can help to pull the country out of recession. It does not want the capital to be gridlocked during the Games and for activity to fall away.

Workers in central London are being asked to vary their routines to ease the strain on the crowded transport network during the Olympics and the Paralympics that follow.

During last month's test, some staff working from home for the first time reported problems connecting to company networks. More than a quarter of businesses said that asking staff to use a different mode of transport had not been effective.

The high-rise Canary Wharf financial district in London Docklands, where almost 100,000 people work, is only a few miles from the main Olympic park.

Deloitte, a sponsor of the London Games, ran the tests in coordination with Canary Wharf Group.

(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by David Goodman)

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