It’s been a long 8 years for fans of the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team (not nearly as long for fans of the amazing women’s team). But the World Cup begins on Sunday with the first match.
In 2010, I did a post about how the World Cup would likely disrupt the workplace with everything from streaming videos to vacation time being used. I suggested that employers needed to envision an event three times larger than the Super Bowl.
In 2014, I noted how employees don’t need to use an employer’s computer system anymore. They can stream every game for free on their smartphone or device.
I even remarked how one overseas company was recommending employer adopt a “flexible” workplace policy suggesting that employers should have policies in place to deal with requests for time off that coincided with games.
Obviously, a lot has changed in the last 8 years. If anything, soccer has become much more popular in the United States. And the U.S. team is full of new vibrant players. And with the increase in television coverage of overseas leagues and Major League Soccer, fans in the U.S. are much more invested in other teams. (I’m a big fan of Tottenham Spurs, for example.)
Beyond that, many more employees are working remotely and are thus harder to supervise directly. What’s to prevent an employee from watching a game on one screen while listening in on a Zoom conference on another?
What’s an employer to do?
As I suggested a while back, this isn’t exactly the time to throw a red card at them. First off, the next two games will be during Thanksgiving week — a notoriously slow time for many offices (not so slow for the retail side). But beyond that, the question is “how” are you going to know?
Alternatively, you can lean into the World Cup by holding a viewing party for some employees. Heck, that may even bring more employees into your workplace.
There’s no one size fits all. Some employers will need to crack down while others can decide whether it’s a priority.
The first U.S. game is this Monday against Wales at 2 p.m. ET. I’ll be watching. The question is: Will your employees be?