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Some of the most watched televised events are sporting events. The 2010 FIFA World Cup, for example, drew in 3.2 billion viewers, and more than 100 million people tune into March Madness tournaments and the Super Bowl each year.
It’s safe to say that during any given sporting event, people will be tuning in at work to watch, but this can come at a cost. During the 2010 World Cup, one data firm found that lost productivity cost American companies approximately $121 million. Streaming live sporting events on company time causes a chain reaction that leads to less work and higher costs.
First of all, there’s the obvious lack of productivity. If employees are watching sporting events, they’re not focused on getting their work done. Even if they’re not actively watching the games themselves, frequently checking scores, replays, or brackets can be just as distracting.
Streaming live feeds also eats away at company bandwidth, slowing computer networks in the process and leaving less space for necessary business operations. Companies who don’t reign in online streaming may also end up spending more money to increase their bandwidth.
If you’re concerned about the effect sporting events have on your business, there are a few things you can do.
Filters and Blocks
One way to cut back on lost productivity and bandwidth use during sporting events is to block or limit access to sites that are entertainment-based or not work related. Proctor & Gamble adopted this approach after discovering that their employees were watching 50,000 YouTube videos each day and listening to 4,000 hours of music. This move helped improve the company’s bandwidth and free up more space for business functions.
Specific sites can be blocked manually, but most companies rely on a proxy server to help filter web content and block access to sites that aren’t work-related.
March Madness, Without the Madness
Face it— most employees are going to watch major games and events online during work hours. Even if you install internet filters and blocks, they can still stream sporting events on their phones or tablets using your in-office Wi-Fi.
Instead of banning watching sporting events at work, many employers are taking proactive approaches that offer a win-win solution for employees and the bottom line. Team unity and morale are vital in the workplace, leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention. Employers who recognize this can actually reduce costs in the long run by reducing turnover.
A few ways you can work sporting events into work time include:
Steam games in a conference room, break room, or other room during major sporting events where employees can take their laptops and work while watching games. This allows sports fans to get their fix and spares those who don’t care about the games to do their work in peace.
If your company blocks or filters online game streaming, use the sporting events as an incentive for good performance. For example, if your team hits their sales goals or fills production orders in time, plan a party where you watch the event as a reward for meeting goals.
A great way to promote teamwork and increase unity in the workplace is to bring everyone together for an office pool. This could be fantasy football leagues, March Madness brackets, or bets on which countries will win events in the Olympics.
If you have employees who simply must watch a certain game or event, offer a flexible schedule or lunch hour. For example, if the big game starts at 3 pm, you could let employees who want to watch take a late lunch break.
Major sporting events don’t have to drain your workplace of time or resources—they can actually do just the opposite. Incorporating sporting events into work time or using them as incentives are great opportunities to increase morale and improve overall productivity.