If you think it’s going to be business as usual during the Olympics, think again. For those based in London, just getting to work could become a challenge. Here we present our guide to surviving the Games

London 2012 Olympic Games / Olympics

An estimated 800,000 spectators a day are expected to descend on London’s creaking public transport system to travel to events during the Olympic Games, which will last from 27 July to 12 August. Around 10,700 athletes from 200 nations will also be in town, as will about 20,000 members of the international media. The family members alone of Olympic and Paralympic athletes will add up to 50,000 people.

For businesses, especially those with a London presence, this at best threatens logistical problems. At worst it raises the spectre of major disruption caused by a serious incident, such as a pandemic or terrorist attack. The ABI’s chief media relations officer Malcolm Tarling says: “Businesses need to sit down and assess what the Games mean for them in terms of access, supplies and working practices.”

With preparation for the period essential, here is our Olympics survival guide for insurers, brokers and loss adjusters.

1. Prepare to be busy

The event is likely to lead to a rise in claims. The Metropolitan Police announced in June that it expects such a deluge of “pick-pockets, table-surfers, bag snatchers, burglars, illegal gamers and other criminals who target visitors to the capital” that it is mounting a unique initiative, Operation Ursus, to fight the expected onslaught. Research by AXA published earlier this year also suggested it expected a surge in home claims. AXA found that when family and friends get together at home to watch an event such as the Olympics, the risk of loss or damage increases by up to 78%. Meanwhile, when many people leave their homes to attend events, thefts can increase by up to 24%.

2. Secure accommodation

If your company provides alternative accommodation to customers in London, this is key potential pressure point. Aviva’s head of the property supply chain Mark Barrett says: “Alternative accommodation is a key part of a home insurance claim if damage caused is so severe that customers have to move out of their home while it is being repaired. So we have also secured rooms in London and the South East in advance for any aternative acommodation needs, before, during and immediately after the Games.”

3 Start training

To cope with transport disruption, whether mild or severe, ask your staff to practice different ways of getting into work. The London Chamber of Commerce recommends following its Five Ways in Five Days initiative, where its staff members were encouraged to travel to work using five different routes and methods over a working week. Ian Smith, a spokesman for the Chamber, says: “The idea was to give us all a range of alternative ways in, should our normal routes be disrupted.” Some methods were more imaginative than others: “One of my colleagues did a 26-mile cycle ride and I decided to run in one day and took a Thames Clipper another day.”

4. Arrange for remote working

The ideal approach for some members of staff might be to avoid the capital altogether, so set up systems that allow them to work from home during the Games. This means remote access to servers and the intranet and, ideally, video conferencing facilities, as Aviva has put in place. Biba technical services manager Steve Foulsham says: “Do trial runs before the event to make sure your systems work, and budget for it – staff may need to claim for extra things on expenses, such as charges for making calls from home.”

5. Stock up

Whether London is hit by transport disruption or something worse, it may be difficult for your usual deliveries to reach you. Few of us could work through the day without coffee and tea, much less paper, so Smith says: “It sounds simple but it’s worth stocking up on basic supplies prior to the Games.”

6. Check your business continuity plan

While most companies should have a long-standing business continuity plan, it is not safe to assume that this is sufficient for weathering the Games. Foulsham says: “It is worth revisiting your business resilience strategy to make sure you will be capable of maintaining your business model in the event of the problems that will inevitably arise. Your business resilience plan should be updated every year in any case – for instance you need to make sure you have the correct contact details for each member of staff.”

Crowded street

7. Consider a specific Olympics plan

Aviva has drawn up a contingency plan especially for the Games. A spokesperson says: “Our network of UK locations means we have the flexibility to move work around the country when necessary. At our London offices, where possible, we have implemented flexible working arrangements such as travelling to and from work outside of the peak times or using non-London based offices to work from.”

8. Find alternative lines of communication

If mobile phone networks become overloaded making it impossible to send texts or if the number of people streaming videos on their computer affects the internet, Foulsham says, “make sure you have staff member’s home land line number”.

9. Keep in touch with customers

It is essential to maintain lines of communication with customers too. Foulsham says: “If you can’t get to into your London office, you need to send a message to customers to say that you are open for business.” Make provisions for phone lines to be diverted and a notice that can go onto your website.

10. Think laterally

A business continuity centre, from where the company can operate in the event of not being able to access its normal office, is a good start. But the extent of the disruption the Games could cause may mean that if this centre itself is in London, a serious incident could leave it out of action. Foulsham recommends arranging several back-up sites. “If you have staff coming into London from all points of the compass, you can set up a number of small sites in outer London, rather than just one.” Again, do trial runs to ensure staff can work from these sites.

11. Keep an eye on the holiday schedule

With many staff wanting time off to watch, attend or avoid the Olympics, it’s important to make sure a sufficient number will be working over the fortnight. Barrett at Aviva says: “Leave is being managed to ensure key loss adjusting staff are available throughout the Games.”

12. Give staff a break

Be prepared for employees to want to watch Olympic events. Neil Grimshaw, director of Yorkshire broker Ravenhall Risk Solutions, says: “If someone wants to take an early lunch or leave early to watch the 100 metres then as long as they make up the time, that’s fine. We’ve an flexible attitude.”

13. And don’t forget the Paralympic Games…

This event takes place 18 days after the Olympic Games closing ceremony, from 30 August to 9 September. It is a smaller event, with 4,200 athletes competing. But with around 1.5 million tickets for 471 events, it could also cause its fair share of transport disruption…