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Getting away with it

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Kyle Walker

What are your business goals this year? We have all been there. Heads are crouched over computer screens, not a sound comes from the cubicles, no-one has gone to the kitchen for hours.

The only sound is the gentle tapping of keyboards, as the boss sits amazed at the studious efficiency of their staff.

Then… dreams are shattered, as with one roar the office erupts into a World Cup goal celebration.

So, what exactly should bosses do about their staff watching games?

We can’t all go down the pub for every match – the nation would grind to a halt.

And yet banning any and all mention of the games at work is becoming increasingly difficult.

You can follow the games online, on Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, everyone’s mobile phone has a dozen ways of keeping a luddite with app-phobia abreast of the second reserve keeper’s ligament problems.

Of course there are plenty of experts out there – lawyers, HR professionals and business gurus – willing to offer advice. They range from organising a TV for the office and giving in to the inevitable, to the other, more-draconian, end of the spectrum.

If your staff are discussing the weakness of the Belgium back four too much, treat it just like they are talking about Love Island for too long.


Remind them they are here to work – and if they complain take them aside for a one-to-one briefing on why they should be doing what you ask them to do, followed of course by a follow-up phone call with Kevin in HR.

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Are some of your staff failing to turn up the day after an England game, because of a headache? Why not chase them down, confront them and give them a written warning.

On the other hand, the trade unions have been a bit more responsible this time.

During the 2006 World Cup (the last time England reached the quarter finals), the Amicus union gave members advice on how to throw a “sickie” when England were playing. It even went as far as suggesting how members might then deal with any disciplinary proceedings.

However, if you do feel compelled to watch or listen to games at work, here are a list of do and don’ts that may be sensible to follow.

  • DON’T wear team colours, replica shirts or come to work with a vuvuzela
  • DO keep a screen with your work on open at all times (you might even like to use it occasionally in case the boss is on the prowl)
  • DON’T make a cup of tea or coffee five minutes before kick-off – the queue at the kettle is a bit of a giveaway
  • DO try to do some work; half time is always an ideal opportunity for a little light filing
  • DON’T leap to your feet, screaming “YES GET IN YOU BEAUTY!!!!!!”. It is difficult to pass off as normal in any newsroom I’ve worked in, let alone the Accounts Department.

Finally, there is an “escape to victory” for all workers. Does your boss shut their door during matches, wear headphones, chew their nails and fist pump – at all the right times?

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If so, they may be easier to get around than a Panamanian goalkeeper.

And heaven forfend catching them celebrating on your smartphone.

Watch England take on Sweden on Saturday across the BBC. The game at the Samara Arena will kick-off at 15:00 BST, live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sport online.

Source: BBC

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