by Thomas Wailgum

World Cup Cyberslacking Warnings: Just Junior Varsity FUD

Jun 07, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Consider yourself forewarned, business managers: The World Cup will take down your business's operations. it won't.

We all know that “worker output” can get a little slow when the week of NCAA basketball’s March Madness rolls around. However, most higher-ups tend to not fret too much over employees’ time spent researching the 65 collegiate teams fortunate to make the annual hoops tourney. And on Thursday and Friday afternoons of that first week, many conference room TVs and PC screens have been known to display a game or two.

That “look the other way” strategy from U.S. bosses is typically the manifestation of two things: 1. The managers themselves usually have a bracket or two in play; and 2. No one actually takes seriously the annual lost-productivity research, such as the data from FUD factory Challenger, Gray & Christmas: “FIRST WEEK OF TOURNEY COULD COST $1.8 BILLION,” was its 2010 memorable data point.

But, apparently, bosses haven’t seen anything yet.

Behold the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer (or futbol, if you prefer) tourney, which will run from June 11 to July 11, 2010. Since it’s called the “World Cup” and offers 30 teams from countries all around this planet playing 64 games, this could be considered “the mother of all cyberslacking” events, to some jaded people.

According to one tech vendor, which coincidentally just happens to make PC and Internet monitoring, reporting and security software (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), the potential for business disruption and lost productivity is more alarming than the expansive bodily transformation of Argentina’s Diego Maradona.

The vendor is SpectorSoft, and this is its dire warning: “Businesses of all sizes are likely to feel the impact of employee distractions and interest in World Cup matches, sports highlights and breaking news.” This, states a company press release, “has the potential to erode business profitability, productivity and corporate security” in five major areas:

  • Excessive viewing of World Cup matches, news and highlights at work via the Internet (Me: Yup)
  • Increased Facebook discussions and leaderboard activity (Me: Tsk-Tsk)
  • Spikes and bandwidth drains on corporate networks (Me: How rude!)
  • Online gambling and sporting bets placed during work hours (Me: That’s just plain wrong)
  • World Cup-related e-mail scams that can infect corporate PCs (Me: Hate it when that happens)

Are you worried yet?

Here’s some additional FUD—er, I mean—data to grab your attention: “A new study reveals that in the UK alone, more than half of local workers (54%) are planning to stream World Cup games on their office computer while at work,” notes the SpectorSoft release. (The specific survey is not cited or linked to.)

Had enough? Well, here’s even more from SpectorSoft! “Although many companies have strict policies against online gambling at work, the experts at Latitude Digital Marketing predict that approximately 500 million Euro will be wagered on World Cup sports bets—with as many as 50% of bets to be wagered online, versus the normal average of just 15%.”

Wow, it appears that the cumulative worker time-wasted during the 2010 World Cup is going to make the time wasted during March Madness look like an extra 30 seconds of an employee bathroom break.

Look, I’m sure the good folks at SpectorSoft make a wonderful product for spying on employees’ Internet browsing. And no doubt: There will be legions of workers around the world who will tune in to catch their national teams competing during the tourney.

But NCAA March Madness history tells us that no company ever went out of business because some of their employees tuned into to see how their beloved hoops teams or hand-written brackets fared during a couple weeks in March. (In fact, I’d argue it actually has brought employees closer together.)

If one of your employees is a problem worker, chances are it wasn’t the corporate Internet access to the World Cup tourney that turned him into a terrible, time-wasting employee with a gambling problem. It was the bosses’ years of management negligence and ignorance that had already done that.

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