With exactly one week to go before the opening ceremony, the excitement about Rio 2016 Olympics is rising day by day. More than 10,500 athletes from 206 countries are expected to compete during ‎306 events in 28 sports. Over 3.5 billion viewers will follow the Games between 5th and 21st of August and your employees will certainly be among them.

What should an employer do to keep employees productive and satisfied during the Olympics?

Without any doubt – let them watch.

It is completely understandable if you have concerns regarding their productivity. However, there will always be some public events or personal issues that will catch employees’ attention. If they have already decided to watch the Games, they will find a way. Over 30% of the world’s population own a smartphone and if they are not relying on a company wireless signal, it is pretty hard to block these devices.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you hired your employees because you believed they could do the job. In a company in which everyone is aware of their responsibilities, an event that only happens every four years for two weeks is doubtfully going to throw off the productivity of your department or company significantly.

Several employers we talked to told us that they treat the Olympics as a special occasion. They use them as a reward for great performance over the course of years. Watching sports with other coworkers will improve your employees’ interpersonal relationships as well as their job satisfaction. The improved work environment will make them more “company people”, willing to go the extra mile for you when you need it.

What are the necessary steps you need to take to survive this worldwide euphoria?

The key to good HR lies in great communication. If you don’t want your business to suffer, you need to talk to your team and set a firm policy regarding time and productivity. Make sure to:

  • Talk to your employees informally to make sure that as a group they don’t let the business get into difficulty. We recommend that employees vote on events that they want streamed from the office and that they arrange informal shift systems so that during an important event, there are enough people to cover “front of house” etc.
  • Ensure that you don’t give the impression that you’re taking a lax attitude to watching TV while working. What begins with the Olympics may end with viewing the latest antics of The Jersey Shore.
  • Remind your employees that when they’re watching Olympics from the office, they’re neither at the bar nor at home. Pounding desks or shouting can be distracting to those who need to be working at that moment. Explain to them that they can be excited, but quietly.
  • Consider the bandwidth and other company resources. Check with the IT department and find out if your office’s infrastructure can support a lot of streaming without causing outages on your network. Another option would be to have sports fans work from home, where they could watch certain Olympic events without disturbing the others.

Sporting events of any kind are supposed to bring entertainment and joy to those watching them. Take this to your advantage, create happier employees and don’t forget to support your country!