Managers are worried that next month’s World Cup Finals in South Africa will lead to network challenges and a dip in employee performance.
A survey by networking firm Blue Coat Systems has found as many as half of the IT managers contacted believe staff should be banned from streaming matches to their desktops in office hours.
Networks would be placed under severe strain from notoriously bandwidth-hungry Internet video as football fans sneakily spend part of their working day following their teams during the tournament.
A streamed football match would eat up as much as 750MB of bandwidth and at least one of England’s games, the clash with Slovenia on 23 June, will take place in daylight – with more attention becoming inevitable if the national team progresses beyond the group stage.
A similar survey found that 54% of workers plan to watch World Cup matches at work.
In any case, the whole competition – which starts on June 11 – lasts a month, with the last games being played on Sunday, July 11 – and are inevitably going to grip at least part of the nation.
There are other concerns too as alcohol abuse charity Drinkaware warns that staff are likely to use the excuse of the competition to turn up to work much more hungover than usual, leading to impaired performance and a rise in the number of errors.
The organisation believes as on any working day as many as 520,000 Britons start their working days with a hangover.
The Medical Director of Bupa Health told the BBC, "As an employer, it is important not to ignore the effects of alcohol on employees or the adverse effects it can have on the workplace environment.”
Right Hand HR have put together ten top tips for managing World Cup fever:
1. Send a memo to all employees explaining your plans and expectations. Remind them how they can request time off to watch key matches.
2. Implement flexible working practices, so employees can make up the time to watch their preferred games. Allow shift-working employees to swap shifts.
3. Consider temporarily relaxing your rules. Remove any caps on the number of employees allowed to be off at the same time.
4. Allow employees to watch key matches on television in the canteen or another communal area. Play a radio with match commentary or transmit matches over your PA system to employees on the shop floor.
5. Encourage managers to talk openly with staff in advance about the measures being undertaken to allow people to watch matches.
6. Remember, with the UK’s multi-racial workforce, employees may be following other nations. Allow them the same flexibility as you allow England supporters.
7. Encourage employees to bring in flags and banners for their teams and, on match days, consider allowing employees to wear their team’s shirt.
8. Remember that not everyone will be caught up in World Cup fever. Consider setting up ‘football-free’ areas. Ensure that any temporary changes to working practices apply to the entire workforce.
9. Do explain how any unauthorised absences will be dealt with. Highlight the key points of your absence procedure, who to ring, when to ring and sick pay entitlement. Make it clear that if an employees’ sickness links directly to the football fixtures, an investigation may take place and they may be asked to provide a medical certificate to support their absence.
10. Be as flexible as possible in accommodating enthusiasm for the World Cup. Remember, sporting events can bring social and financial benefits to the workplace, forging bonds and bridging gaps between colleagues.