Whether you’re a sports lover or loather, it will be nigh on impossible to be a sports eluder when the huge sportsfest that is the Olympics hits London in a few months’ time. Unless, like me, you’re planning on leaving the country for most of it (*smug*), you can expect travel chaos and overcrowding everywhere. Well, everywhere except the workplace that is – it could be a fortnight of staff shortages for employers, as sports fans take time off to watch the Games! From the lucky ones who got tickets to events, to the less fortunate who just want to watch it all on the box, there will be few people who will be happy to ignore it all and come into work every day as normal. So now is the time to start preparing, so that business doesn’t grind to a halt for a fortnight!

The two watchwords here are planning and flexibility. Don’t leave it all to the last minute – start working out your cover asap! That means making sure people book their leave dates well in advance, so you can see what you’re working with (or without). Not everyone can book holiday leave at the same time though, so how can you minimise the disruption to your business without employees missing out on the excitement?


Get flexible with creative absence management methods such as flexible hours, unpaid leave, remote working, swapping shifts etc. Consider allowing more simultaneous holidays than usual and using temp cover to pick up the slack. To keep people at work as much as possible instead of taking excessive time off (or pulling sickies), you could also consider allowing people to follow events while still at work. For example, think about screening events in a meeting room, having the TV or radio on in the background, or allowing Internet access to the Games.


Do remember though to set some house rules, particularly around alcohol, home country team rivalries, unruly behaviour, face-painting, supporter songs and other potentially chaotic sports-fan traditions! And also consider the aftermath of evening events – you may have a lot of hung-over or absent staff the morning after the night before… But with a bit of forward planning and consideration, this could also be a valuable opportunity to build morale and staff loyalty, and gain a few ‘boss brownie points’ – so use it wisely, and Come On Team GB!