As the world counts down the days to football’s largest event (or “soccer” to those of you in America!) companies around the world may well worry about the impact and loss of productivity brought about by the event.
So, what are HR and managers going to do about it?
Depending on which part of the world you reside in, the “live” telecasts of the matches could prove to be a major distraction to work, life and everything else.
Out of curiosity, I had a peek at the fixtures. It looks like the countries in the GMT to +2 GMT time zones would have the least disruption to their work life! Most matches kick off at around 7pm and 10pm local time in Europe and Africa, thus allowing viewers to catch these matches after dinner and have a good night’s sleep before work the next day. That is unless the results create a certain level of “emotional impact” where viewers are unable to carry on with their normal life. However, that’s a different topic!
Having said that, there are matches that have early or late kick-offs at 4pm and 1am respectively. Now, that should cause some concern!
For the rest of the world (in all the other time zones), these matches will definitely cause disruption to either work or rest.
Surveys have been conducted predicting a loss in productivity. In this particular survey targeted at the Singapore workforce (+8 GMT time zone), as many as 40% of viewers said they intend to stay up to watch the matches before going to work.
It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that if you’re not getting enough rest, you’re more likely to fall sick. Thus, you should expect increased absenteeism with the workforce.
So, back to the question: “What is HR going to do about it?”
Most of us would have policies in place to deal with behavioural issues and misconduct. However, such absenteeism can fall into the “grey” area. What’s more, it’s probably once every four years you get to deal with this.
Is “flexibility” the answer to this question then?
I tend to lean towards a big “YES”.
For companies who have got a “culture of flexibility” already in place, they would find it easier to deal with the “issue”.
Their employees are very used to working with collaboration tools such as:
- A shared calendar – where one can visibly block out the hours when you need to catch up on rest or when you will be away enjoying the match
- A videoconferencing platform – so you can easily join a meeting – be that at the office, at home, or on the move – and ensure you and your team are able to share content and see each other face-to-face, just as you would in a regular meeting in the workplace environment
- Integrated unified collaboration solutions – for example, Microsoft Lync, so your co-workers can see whether you are online at any given time and communicate with you instantly wherever you are
While this blog entry is written in a light-hearted manner with a bit of humour thrown in, the issue with absenteeism and productivity during large, popular events such as the World Cup is very real.
Many organisations are starting to realise that by taking a hard stance and enforcing strict rules and regulation in attempt to control the situation may not be the way to go. Human beings are creative! There is more than one way to get around the rules. Employees can simply apply for sick leave, and there is little organisations can do about it.
Thus, the smarter approach would be to take this opportunity to engage employees through fun activities. I know of a company that showed a few key live games in the office during one of the past World Cup tournaments. It was a late night match; the employees brought snacks and the atmosphere was fantastic.
Through a simple activity, this organisation managed to create an informal “team building” activity, allowing employees to bond. The employees were allowed to rest and work from home the next day, on condition that work was done. The overall productivity went up as these employees felt the need to put in a little bit extra to make up for the “perks”.
I like this story and had shared this on a couple occasions. The key to making it happen was simply “flexibility at work”.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of video collaboration to HR and people management, you can download this paper and read my previous blog posts.
Happy viewing and may the best team win!
Eric Wong left Polycom as of March 2015. This blog post is his personal view and reflective of his thoughts while at Polycom.