What is good for the game is good for the workplace.
Is this statement true and if so, how can you make that happen? Moreover, does software for monitoring computer activity help matters in this case?
Research shows that in the days leading up to a major sports event, 27 minutes out of a workday is spent on sports-related activities.
Additionally, HR managers state that the day after a big football game is so slow that it should be made into a holiday.
But how to maintain a productive environment with so many sports events in a year - and do you need to introduce time tracking in the office to be able to keep an eye on things?
Should You Let Employees Watch Sports?
Whether your employees are die-hard sports fans or not, getting invested in the same thing as your coworker can have a beneficial effect on the whole office (although being on opposite sides can cause some friction, too). It boosts morale and creates positive energy, thus making a happier office.
The question is - should you let people watch a football game or a tennis match in the office? Will they be more productive and attentive if they do watch or if they don’t?
The prevalent opinion is that it’s best if you allow watching some major sports events like the Olympics during office hours. While most big sports events happen in the evening - out of most employees’ working hours - Olympics tend to be an all-day-thing. Additionally, if it’s a championship that’s happening in another country, chances are the time zone won’t fit your evening hours.
Have in mind that if they’ve decided on watching a game that happens to be aired during office hours, you won’t be able to stop them. Everyone has a smartphone these days, so if they don’t depend on the company WiFi, you can’t really block their internet access.
What you can do is monitor employee computers or install time tracker software in order to see if they’ve watched the game there and how productive they were.
However, before you go ahead with implementing employee tracking software, you could also have confidence in your employees that they won’t neglect their professional duties. After all, isn’t that part of the reason you hired them in the first place - because you had confidence they are responsible enough to get the job done?
In a company with a respectable level of productivity, a sports event that happens once a year or every four years shouldn’t create too much of a disturbance since it’s possible to properly manage employee time.
Why Should You Let Employees Watch Sports?
For one, the Olympic Games, for example, are held only once every four years, and it is such a big event on the international scale that it will probably have a positive effect on people to catch a glimpse of certain events every once in a while. Not only will they be less distracted by thinking about what is happening while they can’t get to a screen, but it will also contribute to bonding within your staff.
Aside from improving communication and interpersonal skills among your employees, it will also raise the level of their job satisfaction. Watching a game with colleagues in the office will contribute to turning your employees into company people willing to go that extra mile for the firm when the occasion arises.
It can even help new hires connect to the team and the entire company faster. Aside from the cost of employee monitoring software, the company won’t have to spend much.
Bear in mind that international events are your safest bet when it comes to choosing which sports events to let in your office - they will all be cheering in unison for the same team. Even if you are employing people from all around the world, chances are they will rarely come into the position to clash with each other. Either the corresponding teams won’t actually play against each other or your employees will naturally come to root for some other team where it just comes down to good fun.
How to Keep a Productive Office During Sports Events
With all its pros and cons, the big question is how to watch a game during office hours and not hurt the business in the process?
Answer - create a firm policy regarding time and productivity and communicate clearly to the entire staff. Here is what you can do:
- Talk to the employees informally and make sure they understand that business mustn’t suffer because of a game they want to watch. You can have a vote to choose and sync on which games would be interesting for everyone to watch and organize some type of shifts so that there is always someone covering for someone else. Use project management and time tracking software to make sure tasks are being handled appropriately.
- Ensure you don’t give the impression that watching TV in the office is the new standard behavior. If you’ve agreed on following the Olympics, be careful not to end up watching soap operas by the end of working hours.
- Set ground rules for the cheering behavior that is allowed. Clarify to the staff that watching a game in the office is not the same as doing it in a bar or at home. That entails that those watching the game shouldn’t distract others who need to be working at that moment or have no interest in the game.
- Consider the technical conditions in your workspace and whether they allow a lot of streaming without causing a network outage, for example. If your support team points out potential issues connected with streaming and watching games, you should consider working from home for a few days so that avid fans can follow the events and work. This is exactly where remote employee monitoring software will come in handy to keep an eye on their productivity levels.
Having a football game to bond over with your colleagues will undoubtedly boost morale in the office and eventually carry over to the efficacy with which people are handling their tasks. If you have developed a result-oriented working atmosphere, letting big sports events in your office can only have a positive effect on the employees and their results.
This article was originally written on July 29th, 2016 by Marija Grgur. It was updated on June 11th, 2020 by Aleksandra Djordjevic.