By Daniel Hunter

Nearly four out of five (69 per cent) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) based in London and the South East are worried about the expected disruptions to business during the Olympics, according to research conducted on behalf of global print solutions provider, Lexmark.

For UK SMEs in general, nearly half (50 per cent) have not implemented flexible or remote working policies, with 11.5 per cent planning to leave the decision until right before the Olympics begin, the research reveals.

A fifth (20 per cent) of London-based small businesses intend to decide on a suitable policy during the first week of the Games, once they have a better understanding of the potential disruptions to their workforce. However, over a third (35 per cent) have no intention to change working policies ahead of, or even during, the event.

Additional research carried out by Lexmark in 2011, indicated that more than half of SMEs looking to expand on their working policies were in doing so responding to employee demand for increased flexibility.

This previous research also showed that 40 percent of London respondents claimed their workforce would see working remotely and/or flexibly as a way to boost productivity. Furthermore, a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents said that they believed their workforce would reduce prolonged time travelling to work during peak periods, with a further 23 per cent predicting it would improve morale within their organisation.

“Our latest study shows just over a quarter of London SMEs already have a plan in place to facilitate flexible working policies for staff ahead of the games, which is fantastic to see," Gary Bourland, country general manager for Lexmark UK & Ireland, said.

"For example equipping staff with the right cloud and mobile technologies enables them to stay connected with colleagues and clients from remote locations, furthermore, helps to boost productivity and collaboration during what promises to be a disruptive period for many.”

“What’s really interesting to see is that a fair proportion of London businesses are not concerned about the business effects of this summer’s proceedings. These organisations may have already taken an in-depth look into their contingency plans to ensure they are watertight. An important part of maintaining ‘business as usual’ during busy periods is to provide personnel with appropriate office equipment in order for them to complete their jobs."

Transport for London estimates there will be an extra three million journeys a day on public transport during the Games.

“At Lexmark, we believe the Olympics will likely be the tipping point for flexible working in the UK. As a global provider, we’re seeing businesses worldwide having to adapt to an evolving shift in how people are moving information around. As such, we offer businesses a range of solutions to help remote and home workers remain productive when away from the office. For example, our cloud and mobile print services mean employees canprint on the move. The technology must adapt to the customer, not the other way around,” Bourland concluded.

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