Businesses should prepare for World Cup productivity woes

This week sees the World Cup kicking off, and the headline news is – wait for it – that employees will be skiving off to watch the big games. And the small games, too, probably.

In fairness, there is of course a serious side to businesses having their productivity affected by huge sporting events, such as the one which begins with Brazil taking on Croatia on Thursday evening.

Blue Jeans, a video conferencing outfit, has warned that this year's footy tournament will have the "most negative impact on UK business productivity of any other sporting event", and that impact will naturally worsen the further England get in the cup (if they get anywhere...).

The disruption will be worse than the Murray-winning-Wimbledon affair – and Blue Jeans observed a 46 per cent reduction in meetings held on its communication service during Murray's semi-final last year. There was also apparently a 15 per cent reduction in the overall number of meetings across the entire tennis tournament, according to data Blue Jeans crunched.

James Campanini, Blue Jeans VP and general manager for EMEA, said: "Whether they leave work early to watch it on television, are distracted by the event at work, or want a day off after staying up late to watch it – sports have a significant impact on worker productivity. Viewing figures for this year's World Cup are forecast to far exceed the 17 million that tuned into Andy Murray's semi-final; so much so that Britain's engineers are preparing for predicted 'power surges' as the entire nation tunes in to get behind the team."

His advice for UK organisations was: "To mitigate any potential dips in productivity or increases in absenteeism, UK businesses should provide their staff with the suitable enterprise quality tools and policies to allow them to work remotely and with flexible hours."

Which naturally enough include video conferencing technologies and other collaborative services, which businesses can use to "provide modern workers both schedule flexibility and the much needed face-to-face collaboration they desire," he observed.

That's all well and good, but the danger is we see another England game go to penalties, the inevitable happens, leading to video conferencing... technical hitches, shall we say, as random computer accessories – including the webcam, perhaps – get bounced off walls.