The government has emphasised that while civil servants are being encouraged to vary their work journeys to avoid Olympic disruption, there will be no reduction in the amount of work they do.
Dismissing newspaper reports that Whitehall had told staff to “stay home for the summer”, a government spokesman said in a statement:
“We are encouraging staff to plan ahead and consider different work and travel patterns during the games. This might include walking or cycling, changing their route or travel to and from work or re-timing their working day to avoid the busiest periods.”
17 departments, including the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice, have signed up to the government’s target to vary 50 per cent of journeys by their civil servants. The Home Office and the Foreign Office, which both have signifiant roles in the games, have pledged to change their travel arrangements where possible.
The government statement went on: “In some cases working from home is an option, but it is only one option, it is not appropriate for all staff. In every case, staff will be expected to work just as hard and for the same amount of hours as if they were in the office.”
The Department of Transport, which is leading the planning process, was not able to say how many staff had opted to work from home.
Businesses across the capital have been planning for the disruption expected during the Olympic period. TFL expects the worst congestion to happen on 3 August – day seven of the games – due to the number and location of the events scheduled on that day, with the evening rush hour period expected to be particularly difficult.
“Games lanes”, similar to bus lanes but reserved for the use of olympic athletes, officials, sponsors and the media, will be in operation from 25 July. Planners have advised the public to check daily for the anticipated delays expected to any journey, be it by public transport or car.
Businesses in affected areas have already been advised to reduce the number of deliveries they receive during the games, or pool deliveries with other local companies.
The supermarket Sainsbury’s will be trialling a system of engineers on mopeds or embedded within larger stores, to provide immediate maintenance support when things break down. If successful it may extend the scheme to other stores in future as it anticipates benefits in terms of not only improved sales and efficiency but also lower carbon emissions.
In an attempt to mitigate problems, Transport for London will halt all engineering work during the Olympics, while routine roadworks are to be suspended on all trunk roads and motorways around the capital.