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London firms try flexible work hours ahead of Olympic crush

London companies are taking the step in an attempt to ease congestion during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Story highlights

  • Telecom giant O2 closed its headquarters Wednesday
  • A staff of 2,500 worked from remote locations
  • The summer Olympics are expected to pack London's streets and transit system

With 20 million extra trips on public transport expected during the London 2012 Summer Games, companies are experimenting with flexible working to keep employees off the roads and out of the tube, London's subway system.

Telecom giant O2 completely closed its headquarters Wednesday to see how effectively its 2,500 staff can work from remote locations.

"The doors are shut and lights turned off at the business' 200,000 square foot office," O2 said in a news release.

With up to a third of big companies surveyed by the accounting firm Deloitte agreeing to create flexible hours during the games from July 27 to August 12, O2 says it will publish the results in hopes of convincing even more companies to set up flexible plans.

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O2 says its own flexible working plan has already lead to the elimination of 550 desks at its headquarters without job losses.

The London 2012 Organizing Committee created a 46 page handout for companies in 2010 with advice on working during the games. With 70% of the events happening outside the core Olympic Park in East London, public transport will also be under strain in West London, Greenwich, Wimbledon, and Wembley.

    Organizers expect 80% of the 8 million ticket holders to use the various rail systems, including the tube, during the games.

    There will also be an Olympic Route Network where road traffic will be shut off to allow 55,000 athletes, officials and media to get to venues each day.

    Companies are being urged to stock pile non-perishable goods, alter delivery times, postpone meetings, change working hours and of course relocate staff where possible.