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Office outbreak of sick days & time wasting at work during Rio Olympics 2016!

The 2016 Olympics are upon us, a time of sporting feats and carnivals for anyone lucky enough to be travelling to Rio. Whilst we’re sure you’d all love to be out there celebrating in Brazil, the reality will see most of us shackled to an office desk trying to get a day’s work done.

The Olympics is an amazing Worldwide sporting event that has far reaching repercussions, not just for the host nation, but for all countries involved. Some of these repercussions are more positive than others. One area often overlooked during such a sporting phenomenon is the impact it has on productivity in the workplace. Here’s a few stats to think about:

  • Average level of employee absence in the UK stands at 6.9 days per employee per annum
  • 26% of businesses report non-genuine sick days as the top cause of short-term absence
  • Personal use of technology cited as the main culprit for wasted time at work
  • Rio 2016 will host 16 days of Olympics featuring 42 sports
  • Around a billion people worldwide are expected to watch the Rio Opening Ceremony which starts at 11:35pm UK time live on BBC1
  • Over 3,000 hours of live BBC Olympic TV coverage is already scheduled starting daily from 12:30pm – right in the middle of the UK working day

Here at Kit Out My Office, we’ve been collating feedback on the top issues that impact productivity during major sporting events. These include:

  • An increase in annual leave requests to watch major events
  • A noticeable spike in ‘duvet-days’ as staff stay at home to watch popular events
  • A drop in productivity as people waste more time at work
  • More unauthorised late starts after the previous night’s events and partying
  • Office network latency issues caused by bandwidth ‘hogs’ streaming coverage

With a four-hour time difference between Brazil and the UK, many of the gold medal events will not air on UK TV until well after midnight. This could lead to late starts for employees who’ve braved the early hours of the morning to catch the live action.

Worse still, rather than booking annual leave in advance, some addicted viewers may opt to take ‘duvet-days’ to satisfy their thirst for all things Olympics! Something that’s clearly not in the sporting spirit for employers.

Research from the CIPD, a professional body for HR and people development shows that UK employees already take on average 6.9 sick days per year, up from 6.6 days in the previous year. Furthermore, a staggering 26% of businesses report non-genuine ‘duvet days’ as the top cause for short term absence. Major sporting events such as the Olympics typically add to this problem for UK businesses.

When employees do make it to the office, actual productivity comes into question. A study by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder in 2014 surveyed 5,160 workers across a range of industries and company sizes. Unsurprisingly, personal use of technology is cited as the leading culprit behind unproductive activity at work. The top 10 productivity killers at work as listed as follows:

  1. Mobile phone/texting – 50 percent
  2. Gossip – 42 percent
  3. The Internet – 39 percent
  4. Social media – 38 percent
  5. Snack breaks or smoke breaks – 27 percent
  6. Noisy co-workers – 24 percent
  7. Meetings – 23 percent
  8. Email – 23 percent
  9. Co-workers dropping by – 23 percent
  10. Co-workers putting calls on speaker phone – 10 percent

With 39% of respondents highlighting using the Internet for non-work related information as a top time waster at work, this figure is set to rise during Rio 16’.

Whilst some of these issues may sound fairly trivial on their own, a combination of them together can lead to a resourcing nightmare resulting in a costly drop in productivity for UK businesses.

Don’t worry, all is not lost – we’ve come up with the following ways to reduce absence, improve productivity and get more from your team by embracing the spirit of the Olympics.

Make the most of the 2016 Olympics in your workplace

  • Get off to a good start at the office with a healthy breakfast fit for athletes
  • When submitting/reviewing annual leave requests, be realistic – if everyone in your team wants to take the same days off, it’s not going to work. To resolve any conflicts, why not challenge your colleagues to an event from the Office Summer Games (winner gets preference on annual leave request conflicts)
  • Ask for a late start rather than taking un-authorised ‘duvet-days’. With the opening Ceremony starting at 11:35pm on 5th August, if you work Saturdays and plan to watch the Friday night spectacle, organising a late start is a good idea
  • Cut down on ‘watching whilst working’ by setting up communal spaces with screens and set times to follow major events as a team. This will also help to manage your office bandwidth usage
  • Organise a bit of friendly team rivalry by decorating your desks in the office with a Rio inspired theme – best desk to receive a prize
  • Observe company policies – some companies have clear terms and conditions about what you should and shouldn’t be using office resources for. Pay attention to these and don’t break the rules
  • Embrace the Olympic spirit with a team building event… host your own Office Summer Games and get everyone involved. Hopefully your line manager may even put up a prize for the winners! If not, why not create a sweepstake with an entry fee to compete

We’d love to hear about your time wasting horror stories as well as how you’ll be making this year’s Olympics in the office a productive one! Feel free to share your stories in the comments section below.

Bring the spirit of Rio into your office with our guide to hosting your own Summer Games!

Brush up on your skills before hosting your own Office Summer Games 2016 by watching the following events:

  • Archery:
    • Men's Team Gold Medal Match, Saturday 6th August, 21:07 - 21:32
    • Women's Team Gold Medal Match, Sunday 7th August, 21:07 - 21:32
    • Women's Individual Gold Medal Match, Thursday 11th August, 20:43 - 20:56
    • Men's Individual Gold Medal Match, Friday 12th August, 20:43 - 20:56
  • 10,000m:
    • Women's 10,000m Final, Friday 12th August, 15:10 - 15:43
    • Men's 10,000m Final, Sunday 14th August, 01:25 - 01:55
  • Hammer Throw:
    • Women's Hammer Throw Final, Monday 15th August, 14:40 - 16:00
    • Men's Hammer Throw Final, Saturday 20th August, 01:05 - 02:25
  • Javelin Throw:
    • Women's Javelin Throw Final, Friday 19th August, 01:10 - 02:20
    • Men's Javelin Throw Final, Sunday 21st August, 00:55 - 02:15
  • Diving:
    • Women's Sync. 3m Springboard Final, Saturday 7th August, 20:00 - 21:00
    • Men's Synchronised 10m Platform Final, Monday 8th August, 20:00 - 21:00
    • Women's Synchronised 10m Platform Final, Tuesday 9th August, 20:00 - 21:00
    • Men's Sync. 3m Springboard Final, Wednesday 10th August, 20:00 - 21:00
    • Women's 3m Springboard Final, Sunday 14th August, 20:00 - 21:15
    • Men's 3m Springboard Final, Tuesday 16th August, 22:00 - 23:45
    • Women's 10m Platform Final, Thursday 18th August, 20:00 - 21:15
    • Men's 10m Platform Final, Saturday 20th August, 20:30 - 21:55
  • Golf:
    • Men's Round 4 Final, Sunday 14th August, 11:00 - 19:00
    • Men's Gold Medal Play-off, Sunday 14th August, 19:30 - 19:40
    • Women's Round 4 Final, Saturday 20th August, 11:00 - 19:00
    • Women's Gold Medal Play-off, Saturday 20th August, 19:30 - 19:40


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