By Tom Degun

London 2012 logoMarch 14 - A third of large companies intend to allow flexible working so staff can watch the Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to research by the business advisory firm Deloitte.

The survey comes just days after the Global Sports Forum Barcelona revealed employers can expect a sharp dip in productivity to coincide with the Games because up to a fifth of Brits plan to follow them at work.

Tickets for London 2012 go on sale tomorrow and the Deloitte research shows excitement is building within the UK business community.

Thirty-two per cent of respondents said they would be happy for staff to take time out to watch live events and make up hours at the start or end of the working day.

Heather Hancock, London 2012 lead partner at Deloitte, said: "It is encouraging to see businesses thinking ahead about the potential impact the Games could have on their day-to-day operations.

"We know the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be business as usual, especially in London.

"As at all times, the priority will be to meet client needs but businesses need to factor in high numbers of staff wanting to attend or watch live events, a transportation system under increased pressure and potential disruption to supply chains.

"Businesses need to think about the policies they will put in place for their workforce next summer.

"For example, they will need to consider how they are going to manage the potential increased demand for annual leave during the Games period.

"They will also need to carefully consider how they can help employees manage their working practices to accommodate flexible or remote working, ensuring business needs are met while facilitating a Games experience.

"It is important that these issues are considered sooner rather than later."

The research provides evidence of business support for the Games, with 44 per cent of companies surveyed intending to encourage staff to attend live events and 42 per cent planning to install big screens in staff canteens or other communal areas.

Over a third of respondents indicated they plan to go to the Games, either as an individual, or with colleagues or clients.

Stevan Rolls, head of HR at Deloitte, said: "With 26 World Championships taking place simultaneously it is inevitable that staff up and down the country will want to take time out to watch their favourite athletes going for gold.

"Organisations that adopt a reasonable, open-minded approach to this can create a great feel-good factor in the office.

"Where businesses are prepared to be innovative, London 2012 may present an opportunity for enhanced employee engagement through themed incentives or the opportunity to trial new working practices.

"Of course, it will be essential for companies to find the right balance and ensure there is no impact on client service levels.

"Twenty-nine per cent of our respondents said they will not allow any staff to watch events during working hours and this may reflect the fact that flexible working will be easier for some industries than others."

A total of 30 per cent of respondents said they would be more understanding if staff have difficulties getting to work during the Games with 11 per cent of companies in London set to encourage staff to work more often from client sites and eight per cent allowing greater use of homeworking.

However, 60 per cent do not expect to make any changes to their flexible working policy at all, which could prove costly.

The Global Sports Forum Barcelona research showed that with one in five keen to remain up to date on all the latest from the Games, 42 per cent of whom will be doing so via the internet and a third using their phones, the country could suffer a huge number of lost working days.

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