Worried about England going all the way?

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Companies should treat the prospect of England continuing to do well at Euro 2004 as an opportunity to try out flexible and remote working rather than viewing it as a potential business banana skin.

Should Sven’s men make it through to the Euro 2004 final on Sunday July 4th, the following Monday is going to be ‘challenging’ in terms of work actually done. But according to IT solutions provider RAMSAC, the impact of potential glory in Portugal could be minimised with some creative thinking.

“This isn’t a gimmick, many companies will be panicking about how to manage staff should England make it through to the final,” said RAMSAC's Dan May.

“The English football team, and Rooney in particular, are already causing significant increases in non-work related e-mail traffic, text messages, internet surfing and even absenteeism due to over-celebration. If Beckham lifts the trophy on July 4th, the following day could see real problems in terms of attendance and productivity.”

According to May, companies in the UK already lose more than one day a week – on average – to staff Internet abuse, costing UK businesses around £1.5 billion a year.

And a survey carried out around the 2002 World Cup found that four out of ten football fans threw at least one ‘sickie’ during the competition, costing business in the region of £390 million.

While the importance of the occasion cannot be over-looked, May argues that with some contingency planning, bosses can not only limit the impact of an England victory, they can actually help staff enjoy it more.

“Why not look at an England victory as an opportunity to try out new ways of working? Flexible hours and remote working are becoming more and more popular, so why not use the occasion to trial new ideas?

"A member of staff working from home is far more likely to contribute to the business day than one forced to come in nursing a hang-over and resenting being at their desk.”

Earlier this month, Investors in People urged organisations to face up to the potential problems caused by Euro 2004 and consider their game plan in advance. Their advice included introducing a 'peakie' system, whereby employees can start work an hour later the day after a major match if they make up their time during the day.

But May suggests that companies are also considerate towards staff wanting to celebrate the England team – and hopefully their success – in the office.

"Many people spend more time in front of their PC at work than they do in their car or even their home! We’ve seen the proliferation of car flags and other England paraphernalia this Summer.

"Bosses could allow a poster or two in the office while making it clear that PC programmes, especially screen savers which are notorious for causing performance issues, are not allowed.

"We’re not saying let everyone work from home should we lift the cup," concludes May. "Neither are we saying fill the office with flags and bunting!

"It’s all about working together to get the right balance between recognising the need for flexibility and making sure business performance doesn’t suffer."

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