During the Games and the Paralympics, staff across Whitehall and the public sector will be ordered not to commute to work for up to seven weeks to prevent London’s public transport network from becoming over-congested.
A series of unprecedented “planning exercises” have been scheduled to “check officials can work from home”.
From Feb 6 to Feb 9, thousands of civil servants have been told to work from home under “Operation Stepchange”. They will be asked to check that teleconferencing facilities are operational and that remote computer networks work.
A briefing for civil servants also offers advice on “how to avoid Waterloo” if they need to travel to meetings in Whitehall.
Next month’s trial run is understood to be the first of three planning sessions ahead of the summer’s seven-week work from home programme.
Among government ministers, the impact of the scheme is likely to be the subject of intense discussion. Following last year’s strikes, some Cabinet ministers privately claimed that their departments ran more smoothly when only key officials came to work. However, others said that their ministries had been brought to a standstill.
The Government is becoming increasingly concerned about the capacity of the London transport system this summer, when an estimated three million extra journeys a day are expected as hundreds of thousands of additional visitors arrive in the capital. Civil servants will start their work-from-home regime a week before the Olympics begin in July and throughout the Paralympics.
The Department of Transport is asking commuters to “try different routes; stagger their journey times; work remotely; or use video conferencing for meetings.” Those who live nearer their place of work are being urged to walk or cycle.
Up to 800,000 spectators and 55,000 competitors, officials, staff and members of the media will travel to and from olympic venues each day during the Games. Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport and the Olympics, said: “By thinking creatively and adjusting travel patterns next summer, we can ensure that everybody gets to their destination and London keeps moving.”
By Robert Winnett, Telegraph Political Editor, 25 Jan 2012