By Neil Hammerton, CEO of Natterbox

As London and the UK gear up for the Olympics this summer, workers are being encouraged to work from home to help minimise chaos on the transport network.

But with the government also warning that Internet access is likely to be impeded during July and August because of the extra pressure being placed on the corporate infrastructure, there is likely to be a knock-on effect on workers logging on through their home broadband.

This, along with the lure of the 100 metres and the country going into party mode, is likely to make business continuity a challenge during that period. To avoid the Olympics being dubbed an unofficial two-week holiday, workers will need all the tools at their fingertips to help them in their new ‘home offices’.

Consider this alongside recent research by Natterbox that revealed six in 10 customers have ditched a company because of poor telephone customer service and it's easy to see how failing to answer an important call or suffering poor connectivity are things that could cost businesses financially, long after the athletes have packed up and gone home.

With an estimated 10 million ticketholders and 20 million spectator journeys expected to be made across London during the Olympics, it’s vital that all businesses ensure they have a contingency plan, in case staff are unable to get to the office. The easiest thing would be to let employees who can’t get to the office use their mobile phones and smartphones for data and voice calls. However, this is very risky, leading to missed opportunities or customer grievances if the employee does not respond to all of the information in a timely manner.

The Olympics are a few months away and it amazes me to hear that many companies have not even considered remote or flexible working. Our research showed that telephone contact was still the favoured method for consumers and so it is vital to ensure customer calls are directed to the right resources within a company are answered and dealt with swiftly, no matter where employees are.

We have heard how a major bank is planning to put its staff up in a London hotel for the duration of the Olympics. This strategy will prove to be much more costly than if it provided employees with the technology to allow them to receive calls made to their office extension to a mobile handset without any disruption to the caller. Although the handset is mobile it is connected to the corporate PBX system, which means that internal calls can be made using the phone extension and transferred internally using short extension code. If the bank was using a supported CRM the Natterbox system would recognise the caller and based on their CRM profile intelligently route the call to the appropriate resource reducing dependence on the company switchboard and freeing it to deal with unknown callers. Another benefit of such a system is the ability for the company to retain call recording for quality, training and regulatory compliance — even though the user is working remotely from their office

There are some organisations that are wise to the game. The Government has already begun instructing Whitehall and public sector staff not to commute, but to work from home for up to seven weeks to prevent London’s public transport network from becoming over-congested. Another company, a major telecoms provider, recently allowed more than 2,500 staff to work from home for a day as part of an experiment to cope with travel disruptions during the Olympics. The company said that 88 per cent of its staff at its UK headquarters claimed productivity was unaffected by the move.

We all know only too well the consequences to the general public and businesses, when, for example Tube workers, the major airlines or teachers go on strike. With this in mind, why not implement a solution in the long-term that can provide compliant business continuity and flexible or remote working, rather than wait until the Olympics is over? This can help to prevent valuable time, money and effort being wasted on assessing the impact to the business — which is just the ticket for British business for the Olympics.

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