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A very IT reaction to the Euros 2016

Throughout the UEFA Euro 2016, it was business as usual for most of us, but that doesn’t mean employees weren’t catching the games at work. In fact, 63 per cent of IT professionals surveyed on Spiceworks expected their colleagues to stream the matches at the office. And we know the England vs Wales match, which took place during work hours, was watched live on BBC online by a record 2.3 million people with a peak audience of more than 9 million on BBC1. In other words, IT professionals’ predictions were spot on and many organisations likely saw a spike in bandwidth usage.

We're sure that many employees continued to watch the matches at the office, which can pose a unique set a problems for IT ranging from network congestion to security threats. According to the IT pros surveyed on Spiceworks, most expected the implications to be manageable with the right networking monitoring tools in place to quickly spot any issues. Aside from the most obvious concern that productivity would slump, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has advised that 'flexibility from both employers and employees throughout the European Cup period is key to a productive business and engaged workforce.'

Accepting the inevitable

Knowing the Euros only happens once every four years, many IT pros accepted the inevitable and took steps to allow employees to indulge in watching their favourite games by reserving televisions to show the matches in central meeting rooms and communal areas. However, most IT pros planned to keep a close eye on the network to limit employees from live-streaming the matches on their devices and avoid a spotty Internet connection or outage, which can severely impact productivity for those not tuned into the football games.

Many IT pros have also learned that discussing the implications of mass live-streaming with senior business executives is crucial. In some instances, executives have announced that employees are allowed to shift their lunch hour and watch the game on their devices in the office, often without clearing this with their IT team. As a result, some IT pros proactively spoke with their management about the implications on the network if employees were allowed to freely live-stream the matches during working hours.

Looking beyond the Euros

In essence, the overall sentiment is the Euros brought friends and colleagues together and the events should be celebrated. Few IT pros admitted to banning the games altogether, which often creates a negative environment that forces employees to find alternative ways to watch the matches, leave the office early or not come in at all.

Planning beforehand and beginning discussions with management early can ensure employees are all on the same page and fully aware of how, or if, they are able to watch the games during work hours. This will also benefit businesses in regard to the upcoming Olympics in Rio. Taking the steps now and learning from this tournament can make a big difference on the implications to corporate networks and servers. It also hopefully means happier employees, and a more productive workforce.

John Webb, General Manager of EMEA, Spiceworks