Australia, England, employers the World Cup losers?

How are you going to manage both your information technology team and corporate use of technology resources during the World Cup this month?
Written by Iain Ferguson, Contributor

commentary How are you going to manage both your information technology team and corporate use of technology resources during the World Cup this month?

Iain Ferguson, ZDNet Australia news editor

There are some serious issues requiring management consideration during the month-long tournament. While the World Cup has always been a hotly anticipated competition worldwide, the presence of Australia for the first time since 1974 is sending interest in this nation to an unprecedented level.

The fact the tournament is being held in Europe is somewhat of a mixed blessing for information technology managers (and managers in other areas) here. While on the one hand there is no chance of an exodus of employees during working hours to catch a high-profile game, on the other there is every chance of a weary, bleary-eyed, potentially mistake-prone crew stumbling in on Monday 19 June after the Socceroos tackle world champions Brazil.

(Managers can also expect a less-than-fresh workforce on Tuesday 13 June after Australia tackles Japan the previous night at 11pm AEST and on Friday 23 June after we take on Croatia at 5am AEST).

The productivity and performance question is exacerbated in companies with a multinational workforce or significant numbers of dedicated football fans (who will consider it an obligation to catch as many games as possible.)

It will be interesting to see to what extent managers demand the same levels of productivity and performance from their jaded workers during the event or whether some accept a slightly lower level of effort on some days. Output could be further eroded by the fact a significant proportion of the workforce could be on leave either to travel to Europe (or at least a friendlier time-zone) or catch the games here without facing the pressure of having to work the day after a late finish.

A real difficulty could, however, be presented by an employee who calls in sick the day after a big match. Suffice to say you would think presentation of a (genuine) medical certificate would be mandatory in most workplaces…

Another difficult management issue -- with obvious ramifications for an information technology operation -- is whether or not to impose rules or restrictions on Internet usage during the tournament.

The wide availability of bandwidth-consuming streaming video in particular from Web sites could substantially increase an organisation's Internet bill (with no business benefit whatsoever), while the temptation to browse the extensive online coverage of the event could also be too much for some workers. Some news reports have indicated that major Socceroos sponsor the National Australia Bank has moved to block its 30,000 employees from accessing World Cup Web sites. It will be interesting to see how many organisations will follow the NAB's lead and if they will have to reinforce to their workers rules governing Internet access in the leadup to the tournament.

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(On a less serious note, who do you think will win? Your writer -- whose tipping pedigree is demonstrated by the fact he currently sits last on the intra-office AFL tipping comp -- thinks the Dutch, Czechs or Argentinians will take it out. Australia, sadly, is unlikely to make it past the first round. An expectation-heavy England will also go out early.)

What techniques (if any) is your organisation employing to keep its workers on track during the World Cup? Have you had or issued any reminders about Internet use at your workplace during the tournament? Has your organisation sought to block any sites? And who is your tip to win? Do you care at all? E-mail me at edit@zdnet.com.au and give me your feedback.

Iain Ferguson is the News Editor of ZDNet Australia.

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