2012 promises to be an exciting year for the UK. We’ve got big sporting events coming up in the summer, and there will be celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Big events like these can open new avenues of opportunity for many businesses. But the disruption they can cause also creates challenges. Roads will be closed and public transport disrupted, which could make it difficult for customers, suppliers and your people to reach you. Your team members might want to take part in local events too, which can put a strain on the business.

How can you strike a balance between letting people take time off to join in these one-off occasions, and making sure the people who carry on working have the means to keep the business running? Having a plan in place is vital for your business to be able to react quickly and stay productive during these events. With flexible working, your people can still attend the events but by using smartphones they can keep an eye on email and take urgent calls from customers. 

Of course, planned events won’t be the only disruptions. Last year, there were a number of unexpected events that had a huge impact on business. The severe weather cost the UK economy £280 million a day, according to the government. The British Retail Consortium said that shops lost 7,500 trading hours to the riots that took place last summer, and that’s just the losses shops suffered. The public sector strikes also had a huge impact, with many people needing to stay home to look after their children while schools were closed.

By preparing for this year’s sporting events and the Jubilee, you can make sure your business is also flexible enough to react quickly and withstand anything else 2012 throws at you. If your business can only work when people can get to a particular desk, it’s more vulnerable to disruption.  By enabling flexible working, business can run as usual whatever happens. Let people work from home, connecting to the company network through a VPN using their home broadband or mobile broadband. So if they can’t get to the office, they can still work and respond to customers. And if people want to change their hours so they can attend an event, they can use smartphones to pick up emails and return calls in convenient breaks, or after the event finishes.

To keep teams that are in different locations on the same page, you can use conference calls to hold meetings. Videoconferencing tools like Microsoft Lync make these more interactive. Call forwarding can be set up to direct calls made to the office to mobile phones, so customers can still get in touch with you when they need to.

Work should be an activity, not a place people go to. When you achieve that, your company can be productive and profitable, whatever happens. It’s going to be a remarkable year. To see how we made work an activity, visit www.o2.co.uk/ourstory. And if you need help getting your smartphone set up to work flexibly, consult the O2 Gurus.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
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