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World Cup Fever


My part of London has come out in a rash of flags flying from cars and houses as people display the Cross of St George to show their support for the England football team.  More central areas reveal their more cosmopolitan nature by a colourful smattering of other flags too.

Inconveniently, the final group match is scheduled for next Wednesday at 3PM.  Several of my team are avid football fans and naturally want to watch the game as it happens even though it falls during normal work hours.  So, what should we do?

(Declaration of self-interest – I’d like to watch the game). 

Work or Watch?

One school of thought is that we are paid to be at work during normal office hours, whatever might be happening in the rest of the world outside at the same time.  If our contract says we should work from 9:00 to 5:30, then our professional response must be to do just that, without complaint.  After all, we agreed to those terms when we signed our contracts. 

The down side of this is that inevitably the match will be a distraction.  Some people will simply listen via earphones or check the internet every 5 minutes anyway, and you can be sure if there is a goal we’ll all find out about it pretty quickly and will sit around discussing it.  Undoubtedly some will resent not being allowed to watch the game, however unjustified that might be.  Either way, most people will probably not have their two most productive hours of the week.

The opposite view is that we are paid for what we produce, not for being in attendance.  Often we can do much of our work just as easily at any time of the day.  It is better for team morale to treat everyone like adults, and allow them to make up for lost time by starting early or working late another day. Football haters may not want to join in so this must be optional, and in fact they will benefit too, by having a much quieter working environment than usual. 

The down side to this that not everyone enjoys football, and others do not receive the same favour when their own pet interest coincides with work.  Others will be required to work normally due to the nature of their jobs. There is a risk of resentment among these groups if there is a perception that all are not being treated equally. 

What we will do

I believe it is much better to recognise the team’s collective desire, and plan to go and see game as a team.  This gives an opportunity to bond as a team socially, and also to show that individuals are valued and trusted.  The company often demands “flexibility” from its employees (i.e. unpaid overtime); this is a chance to give something back. 

We have a second consideration, as we are based at our client’s office, so we have to take their policy into account.  Clearly if they expect all their staff to work as normal then we have to respect that.  As it happens there is no specific guidance and it has been left to local management discretion.

So, we will be in the pub.  Come on England!

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