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Biggest flexible working experiment underway

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The main office of O2 was shut today as the mobile phone giant carried out an experiment to see how well its employees and infrastructure cope with flexible working.

It is the biggest initiative of its kind as 3,000 members of staff have been forced to make alternative arrangements and carry out the practice of mobile working.

This summer is expected to put added pressure on businesses as public transport and internet provision feels the strain of London hosting the Olympic Games.

As many businesses are unprepared for the possible eventualities O2 have taken the step to test out a contingency plan in a move which may help other firms decide on strategies.

Ann Pickering, director of human resources at O2, said: “There are huge benefits to be gained in enabling your workforce to be mobile. Not only does it foster trust between organisations and employees, but allowing staff to shape their own working environment gives them back one of their most valuable resources – time.”

This week has also been chosen by the government for civil servants to practice mobile working, but such drastic measures as closing down Whitehall offices have not been put in place.

Information has also been provided to businesses in order to help them plan for the summer of events.

Nearly half of those employed in the UK say they are allowed to take advantage of flexible working and it is thought that a third of businesses will actively encourage staff to work remotely this summer.

Once the initiative at O2 has been completed the company will look at the amount of energy, emissions and travel time which has been saved due to it.

Ben Dowd, business director for O2, said: “We believe a cultural step-change is underway affecting staff and businesses, as work increasingly becomes something we do, rather than a place that we go.”