Sunday, July 13, 2014

How WorldCup Affects Work Productivity

Despite estimates of lost productivity during World Cup matches that costs businesses into the billions, employers weighing whether to let workers watch the games are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.”

Tuesday marks the tournament’s first semi-final, between Germany and host country Brazil. While major sporting events like the World Cup and the Olympics bring fans together as they cheer on their home country’s athletes, events that fall during working hours can disrupt business operations and cost companies money.

One eye-popping estimate suggests the United Kingdom’s economy lost some $7.3 billion during the 2010 World Cup, despite England’s elimination in the round of 16.

Even in the United States, where soccer isn’t number one among sports fans, businesses were expected to lose about 14 minutes of productivity a day, according to sales and data intelligence firm InsideView. During the 2010 World Cup, American companies lost an estimated $121 million in productivity.

But companies are getting creative in an effort to maintain relatively normal operations during this year’s World Cup. With mobile streaming capabilities and easy remote access to the office, businesses are doing everything from streaming games in conference rooms to relocating operations to local pubs to keep their soccer fans happy -- and productive.

Other employers are blocking access to sites streaming World Cup games.

“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, probably,” Hugh Gunz of the Institute for Management and Innovation at the University of Toronto, “I like the idea of moving to a pub for a month. It’s the sort of thing you can probably do if you’re an advertising agency. Not so easy to do if you’re an electricity utility. On the other hand, if you don’t do something like that, people are probably going to be (watching games) anyway.”

The latter outcome leads to another problem. When a business network is deluged with a spike in streaming traffic, the company-wide internet connection can slow for everybody, including those not interested in watching.

Such concerns spurred publisher Time Inc. to send a memo to employees asking that they not stream last week’s U.S.-Belgium match. Rather, they were encouraged to gather in conference rooms to watch the game.According to the memo, obtained by several media outlets, the company’s chief technology officer said that the company’s network was “severely impacted” during a previous U.S.-Germany match because workers were streaming the game to their local workstations.

"While we understand that everyone wants to support the national team, please do not stream the game over the internet to your local workstation," Colin Bodell wrote. "Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. Go team USA!"

Gunz said moving operations to a bar for a month, meanwhile, is easier to do for, say, an advertising company, where employees can bring laptops and continue using email and other programs while keeping an eye on the score. Such a move may have little impact, if any, on productivity,.

A goods manufacturer, on the other hand, could take a major hit to the bottom line if it shuts down operations for a couple of hours each day.

“It’s difficult if you’re running an assembly line because then you really can measure the cost in terms of what you’re losing by shutting the line down,” Gunz said.

In the end, the benefits of letting employees enjoy a midday sporting event together may outweigh the drawbacks when looking at employee happiness, satisfaction and togetherness.

Vanessa Vuote, a researcher at Waterloo, Ont.-based Plasticity Labs, said that allowing workers to pause in the work day and bond can be beneficial over the long-term.

“It creates a bond. It creates social connection and a sense of community,” Buote told CTV Kitchener last month as the World Cup was getting underway.

“I really think that the loss of productivity compared to the benefits of creating those social bonds and those social connections – I don’t even think it compares.”

CTV Canada

No comments:

Post a Comment