Tube strikes and technology

the_mobile_officeNegotiations have stalled for London Undeground staff and their 5% pay increase and exemption from compulsory redundancy looks to be in jeopardy. With union and management reps spending hours around the negotiation table, I’m sure this situation is far more complex than one initially thinks.

Whatever the detail, this has resulted in the RMT calling a 48-hour strike that grinds London to a halt. Slight frustrating for many London businesses, but I’m not suprised this action has been taken…anyone would be annoyed about losing such job security during this economic climate.

So for the next 48 hours workers will struggle to get in to London and the capital ends up £100m out of pocket (according to London First). Not great amidst the current doom and gloom.

This situation will always impact on some workers more than others – retail largely needs staff in their shops, however, many businesses could still run to various extents without their staff coming to work. Employers have been dabbling with remote working more and more over the years (god bless the Blackberry…). Today, the technology is certainly out there for colleagues and clients to engage in business more smoothly than before, but many companies do not have the IT infrastructure and funds to invest in new systems – even if this results in a far more productive workforce.

We know that having the office travel with us means we are more connected to work than we sometimes prefer, but it surely has a place in a world where there is more demand for flexible working. I prefer to go to an office to distinguish between home and work, but it’s good to have the flexibility if need be.

For London commerce to take the blows of severe weather and tube strikes in the future, I’d be interested to see if there are any initiatives in development/progress that see City Hall help fund any necessary upgrades in the IT infrastructure of businesses in London. This would ensure London has the cutting edge it needs in the global economy and not wince in the light of similar disruptions in the future. I might ask Boris.

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