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How to manage the World Cup at work

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Every four years when the world cup comes around, a bunch of articles are written about how to deal with employees wanting to watch world cup matches during working hours. Whereas some legal teams may recommend enforcing rules and even having a ‘world cup policy’, I suggest making the world cup an opportunity to demonstrate that you are a great company to work for.

The best way I’ve heard of dealing with the World Cup at work was at a firm where the CEO was a big football fan. So rather than implementing rules about time off during world cup matches and reiterating an absence policy, the world cup was embraced and showed all the England matches in the board room on the big screen, and laid on drinks and food for everyone. The net result? Those matches did more for their employee morale and team spirit than all of the HR initiatives that year combined, and former colleagues still talk about how great that World Cup summer was.

“Surely you need some rules though? What about customers and phones?” some of you may say. They went out on a limb and decided not to set any rules. They treated people like adults and hoped that they cared enough about their work and their customers to make sure they weren’t impacted. And guess what – that’s exactly what they did. Some departments had a ‘football hater’ who manned the phones, others diverted phones to their mobiles (not that threy received many calls during the matches mind you), meetings were booked so they didn’t coincide with the England matches and most people voluntarily put in extra time to catch up on missed work. Even those who didn’t really like football that much joined in which made for a great atmosphere.

OK so many small companies won’t have a board room with a big screen. But you could show matches on a projector, or even bring in a TV and have it on in the office. Whatever you decide to do, embracing the World Cup spirit and turning it into a fun, team event with some food and refreshments is going to do wonders for your morale and longer term employee commitment. So put away the rule books for a few weeks and open up the Cheesy Wotsits. 

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