By Claire West

Organisations should be advised to find an alternative way’s for their employees to work from home as the first in a series of London tube strikes begin, according to Riverbed Technology. Thousands of London Underground workers are due to begin a 24-hour walkout in two waves, at 1700 BST and 2100 BST. They are unhappy about plans to scrap 800 jobs in ticket offices and say station security could be at risk. Up to 200 Jubilee and Northern line maintenance staff began a separate 24-hour strike at 1900 BST on Sunday.

According to Mark Lewis, Senior Director of Marketing and Alliances at Riverbed Technology, “the strike has the potential to stop some workers getting to the work place and for those who do take to public transport and battle their way to the office, many perhaps arriving later than usual, there is going to be the extended worry of how to get home again. Both giving rise to a potential reduction of productivity in the workplace.

“Measuring the impact is difficult and will vary depending on the type of organisation, for example lacking call centre staff may have a direct impact on receiving revenue with potential permanent losses to competitors who are able to operate. Also service organisations may not be able to deliver the services they require to generate revenues, again resulting in lost revenues. Any scenario where employee’s employees can’t get access to their organisation’s systems either remotely or locally is naturally going to lead to a decline in work productivity.”

“In light of the problems workers are likely to face travelling to and from work during a tube strike, organisations could look to adopting a home working contingency plan. Many organisations today are set up for home working and so the tube strike will have minimum impact, however many more organisations are not set up for home working, for good reason in a majority of cases. however In a similar way that businesses build disaster recovery recovery plans in the event of terrorist threats to protect data it could pay dividends to put plans in place in the event of transport issues, such as tube or rail strikes.”

However, Giles Nelson, deputy CTO of Progress Software, believes that the strike could have a knock on impact on other industries.

“Today’s tube strike has the potential to stop staff getting to the work place, particularly those who work in environments that require them to physically be in a certain place at a certain time. For example, a driver of a travel and logistics organisation may not be able turn up at his depo when needed, therefore his truck doesn’t pick up goods, leading to a late customer delivery.

“Also service organisations may not be able to deliver the services they require to generate revenues, potentially resulting in lost income. Any scenario where employee’s can’t get access to information across an organisation’s systems either is naturally going to lead to decline in productivity.

“It’s all very well for companies to put in place contingency plans, but measuring the impact of the tube strike is difficult and will vary depending on the type of organisation. For example, supermarkets lacking staff may have a direct impact on production with potential permanent losses to competitors who are able to operate in a more responsive way.

“By understanding and dealing with exceptions as fast as possible, disruption can be minimised and customers can be kept happy. The good news is that there are now technologies available that allow organisations to adapt to changing conditions and customer interactions as they occur, enabling them to drive greater efficiencies.”

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