Olympics 2012 - Prepare now to protect your business

The Olympics aren’t going to be fun and games for everyone.

While many people are looking forward to London 2012, business owners are growing increasingly concerned about the impact on their activities.

Businesses around the country need to be prepared for a potentially difficult month. You need to start planning now if you are to ensure that the negative effects are mitigated as far as possible.

Prepare for remote working

Warnings of transport chaos have been increasing in volume in the past few months. Indeed, even London 2012 organisers have said that the capital will be close to gridlock during the Olympics and Paralympics.

Perhaps the most significant business implication here is an increased difficulty for staff getting to work. Wherever possible, you should provide employees with the equipment they need to work from home. This might not be as simple as a laptop and an internet connection. For example, if employees are likely to need to access information on your company’s network, you may need to set up a VPN system. If you are dealing with sensitive information, remember that you might have legal obligations regarding data protection.

Of course, remote working is impossible for some businesses. Cafes, restaurants, and shops are all likely to feel the pinch when it comes to staff availability. You need to start thinking now about how you will cope in the event that your employees are unable to get to your premises. What sort of service will you be able to provide with a skeleton staff?

Plan for fluctuations in footfall

On the other side of the equation you need to think about the impact on footfall. If you run a consumer-facing business, transport difficulties and a significant increase in the number of people in the city will combine to create potentially significant difficulties.

You should prepare for significant changes in footfall patterns. Depending where you are in London and the nature of your business, you could either see a major increase in footfall thanks to the millions of extra people coming into the capital, or a drop caused by transport problems. You need to be prepared for either scenario. Will you have the resources to cope with extra demand? Or, on the other hand, will you be able to cope financially with a month of slow trading?

Consider supply chains

Supply chains may also be affected during the Olympics and Paralympics. Problems of this sort could manifest themselves in many ways. For example, if you run a catering business you should be prepared for problems or delays in deliveries. But you should also remember that issues could arise further up the supply chain. You may wish to speak to your suppliers to determine what arrangements they have made to mitigate these potential problems.

Don't rely on accommodation

London will be full to bursting during the Olympics and Paralympics. Reports suggest that many of the capital’s hotels are already booked up, and securing accommodation is becoming increasingly difficult. If you are expecting visitors during this period, think now about whether or not they will be able to find somewhere to stay. You may need to rearrange meetings in order to ensure that visitors can find a room.

Understand trading restrictions

If your business operates near any of the so-called ‘Event Zones’, you are likely to be affected by potentially severe trading restrictions. These Zones aren’t just in London – they will also be found in Plymouth, Cardiff, and many other towns and cities across the UK.

There are significant restrictions on business activities within these zones. Many advertising materials will be banned. Mobile trading, for example from a van, will be illegal, as will any trading on public land. Read more on the Olympic site.

Don't break brand guidelines

The Olympics is being plugged as a community event – but not everyone will be allowed to participate. There are very strict rules regarding use of the Olympic “marks and terminology”. If you’re not an official sponsor, you will not be allowed to use any Olympic imagery, or give the impression that your business is in any way associated with the Games.

The restrictions on business activities are severe. If you are in any doubt you should read the Detailed Notice from the Olympic Delivery Authority, or seek legal advice.