Sorry (yawn), boss, but there’s sport to watch
The day before his team took on Germany in their final group-stage game of the World Cup, United States soccer team manager Jurgen Klinsmann tweeted a cheerful request for bosses to let their employees have the day off. The note, officially sanctioned by the US Soccer Federation, swiftly went viral.
Support for the national side is one thing, but productivity losses during major sporting events are a major concern for employers. A much-quoted InsideView projection had the US economy losing US$121.7 million during the 2010 World Cup due to Americans’ viewing habits. This year’s tournament has drawn record numbers of viewers — and record numbers of sick days.
Australian soccer fans are no less sleep-deprived. Games during the tournament’s group stages kicked off at 1am, 5am and 8am; the knockout rounds aired at a slightly more merciful 2am and 6am. While we are swiftly approaching the pointy end of the World Cup, we’ve also just finished Wimbledon. Even though Nick Kyrgios was knocked out after his early heroics, Aussies stayed up for matches that can and do continue into the wee hours of the morning. And then there’s the Tour de France! And the Commonwealth Games! How is one meant to hide bleary eyes at work during this perfect storm of sporting activity — or manage those who come in displaying them?
Ching Koo, the pharmacist in charge at Chemist Warehouse’s Box Hill branch, has certainly noticed the effects of the various sporting events on his staff. “We’ve had a couple who look like they’ve just come up from the sewers — you know they’ve watched all three games, and they haven’t slept,” he said. “You’ve just got to be wary of it. As long as they’re not totally unproductive, I don’t have a problem with it.”
Koo, a football fan himself, was watching games at the start of the World Cup but has had to cut back. He has noticed employees swapping shifts, and approves — indeed, flexible work hours are one of the suggestions that have mushroomed online.
He also says the World Cup has had a noticeable effect on office camaraderie. People come in to discuss the games and talk about highlights or wagers they or family members have placed on outcomes. “It certainly helps with rapport between staff — you get to know the employees a little bit more.”
Forbes would agree, having run a piece about how watching the World Cup can actually increase office productivity. Interdepartmental communication and collaboration go up, and office pools help with bonhomie — even if you’re unlucky enough to draw Honduras. It’s also worth pointing out that to some, the Bermuda Triangle of texting, YouTube and email still causes more work-hours to disappear than major sporting events.
If you’re one of those who saw Kyrgios beat Nadal, or Tim Cahill’s stunning volley against the Netherlands, this bevy of positive-sounding coverage would seem particularly enabling. But Dr Joy Lee, an advanced trainee in respiratory and sleep medicine at the Monash Medical Centre, says there’s nothing like getting the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep a night.
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