Games a template for working world of the future

Lord Coe. Picture: Getty
Lord Coe. Picture: Getty
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AS KYLIE, Lulu and Deacon Blue prepare to serenade the close of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games festivities tonight at Hampden Stadium, spare a thought for the estimated 1,400 games workers who will be out of a job tomorrow.

It’s what Olympic gold medallist Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organising committee for London’s Olympic Games in 2012, describes as “quite a brutal environment”– and this from someone with the experience of frontline politics as a former Tory MP.

“From the chairman down, you don’t have a job beyond the closing day of the Paralympics,” he said during lunch in Glasgow last week. In such circumstances, it seems the key is to plan ahead and quickly move on. Ty Speer was Commonwealth Games deputy chief until his departure in April to take up a role overseas. Before his Glasgow post he was director of client services at London 2012.

Speer was one of many who migrated north in search of their next job, while others who worked at the London Games have already packed their bags and headed to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

It may seem a rather callous and nomadic lifestyle, but according to new research released last week, it is a way of working that more of us will embrace willingly in the coming years.

The Future Of Work report from PwC prompted speculation in the trade press about the “end of the office” and the “death of nine-to-five”. This has been said in the past but now seems to be gaining traction.

Among its findings the report revealed that only 14 per cent of us in the UK want to regularly attend an office in the years to come, with one in five preferring a “virtual” workplace where we log in from any location that’s convenient.

This suggests a significant shift towards “portfolio” careers as firms predict at least 20 per cent of their workforce will be contract and temporary staff by 2022. Workers will become their own brands, selling their skills to those who need them at a time to suit both parties.

The Great Recession and our slow recovery from that downturn has undoubtedly driven this trend, with self-employment, part-time work and temporary contracts all on the rise since 2008.

But it increasingly looks as if this will remain the norm come better times.

What has always been the traditional way of working for organisers of large sporting events is also becoming the accepted way of doing things throughout the rest of the working world.

Unfortunately, these contingent workers are too often called upon as last-minute substitutes with few or no assurances as to how much work they will get. To reap their full potential, companies must embrace flexible staff as a strategic resource within the core team. «