World Cup matches could bring offices to a halt

Just over half of staff say they'll 'sneak a look' at mid-week matches

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Ah, the beautiful game. Love it or hate it, no one can prevent its unstoppable rampage through British culture over the next few weeks, taking over our TVs, newspapers, computer screens – and, apparently, businesses. Not only will they have to contend with workers taking longer-than-usual lunches and field calls from employees with surprisingly well-timed food poisoning, but, apparently, they’re also going to have to make sure their networks don’t crash during matches.

At least, that’s (sort of), according to Deloitte, which has warned businesses they may need to put extra internet capacity in place if they want to survive the World Cup. Just over half of employees admit they’ll probably sneak a quick look at mid-week afternoon matches streamed online – which could lead to networks crashing, reduced bandwidth, general chaos, and possibly riots. Not only that, but it looks as if they’re going to be spending a lot more time on blogs and social networking sites in an effort to find out what’s going on. And even if you block that, they can always sneak a look on their phones – and at 400mb of data per match, that’s going to affect connections across the office.

Of course, the best way to avoid mass civil unrest is to make like 19% of businesses and offer flexible working, giving the footie fans on your team the chance to spend the afternoon at home shouting at the television, while the non-fans among your staff continue to work (relatively) undisturbed. Legal practice DLA Piper says allowing staff to swap shifts, finish early or start late will allow employees to enjoy the matches at home, without wasting precious bandwidth or resorting to mutiny. You may still get the odd suspicious sickie the following day, though. Those are difficult to prevent.

Still, with Fabio Capello having picked his final team and England flags now flapping out of car windows with disturbing regularity, there’s no stopping the onset of the World Cup. Given we’ve all been struggling through the recession, perhaps an even better strategy for England’s first game on 23 June would be to hire a big screen, crack open some beers, and make everyone turn off their BlackBerrys for the afternoon. They’ll appreciate the gesture.

In today's bulletin:

Thiam's head on the block as Pru abandons AIA deal
UK Plc still hot stuff for investors
Chinese 'death factory' relents to workers
World cup matches could bring offices to a halt
Letters from Malawi: Not a high-flier

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