Employers embracing World Cup excitement by allowing staff to watch and work

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, that’s what employers like Adbloc Media are doing in trying to fight against one of the biggest sporting events in history.

Rather than compete for their staff’s attention spans, the Toronto company is embracing the beautiful game by setting up a mobile office inside the Bier Markt during matches.

The unorthodox move has actually increased productivity according to Peter Kobayashi, partner at the advertising firm.

“Two years ago during the Euro Cup everybody was making cheesy excuses to get out of the office. But now we’re all together, we’re working. We have an infrastructure where we can print, scan, research, compute, communicate.”

The move is also a hit with their clients who can now enjoy a beverage and snacks with their meetings.

Public relations firm Hill+Knowlton is also embracing the soccer excitement. They’ve transformed one of their boardrooms into an official viewing lounge where staff can work and watch at the same time.

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“We got a nice huge, Sharp 90” TV, so it’s like being at home in a nice luxurious space and taking a nice break from the day,” says Rachel Halpern, a consultant with the firm.

The Centre for Social Innovation, a communal workspace on Spadina Avenue, shows matches on a massive projection screen. It’s been a big hit with their international membership.

“It’s impossible to get any work done, especially when my team is playing,” says Michael Fabing, a French software developer who works out of the centre. He adds that showing the matches throughout the afternoon is a great way to stay focused when it’s time to get back to work.

“Because the atmosphere is so great, it actually helps with the productivity afterwards”

David Zweig, a professor at the Rotman School of Management, says provided that limits and work-related expectations are set, embracing the popularity of the World Cup isn’t necessarily a bad thing –though it may run counter to many of the conventional views engrained into North American work culture.

“It’s a good move to be a bit more flexible during these times because you don’t want people to be finding ways to watch the game and keep track of what’s going on, and try and hide it from their employers.”

There’s little doubt that trying to compete with one of the world’s most popular sports is a losing battle.

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During Sunday’s nail-biting tie between the US and Portugal there were 8 million tweets generated – a large number that will likely only grow as we approach the final.

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