UK tests home working to beat Games gridlock

Mon Feb 6, 2012 9:59am EST
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By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Thousands of Britons swapped the office for the comforts of working from home on Monday as government and businesses tested ways of avoiding transport gridlock during this summer's Olympics in London.

Bureaucrats from across government departments were asked to work remotely, or to brave the cold and cycle or walk at least part of the way to the office in a week-long trial to prepare for the Games from July 27 to Aug 12.

The government wants to encourage businesses to vary their working routines to avoid meltdown on the capital's often crowded public transport system when London hosts the Games and the Paralympics.

However, official advice also warns of the risk of Internet services slowing or dropping altogether because of increased demand during the Olympics, another headache for companies.

"The government wants to deliver a great 2012 Olympic Games and keep London and the UK moving at the same time - that's why we are currently encouraging businesses and commuters to plan ahead and consider their travel options," a Department for Transport spokesman said.

"This is about encouraging staff to reduce the impact of their travel by either walking or cycling, changing their route of travel to and from work, re-timing their working day to avoid the busiest periods or working from home," he added.

Mobile phone company 02 closed its headquarters in Slough, west of London, for the day on Monday to allow its 2,500 workers to experiment with working from home.

Increasing numbers of British businesses allow their staff to work from home on occasions to help cut commuting times and improve the work-life balance.   Continued...