As the annual tennis tournament Wimbledon starts to come to a head, you may notice productivity getting more and more lax in your workplace.
Although Andy Murray’s match (and defeat) yesterday might have seen a peak in workplace viewers watching the tournament, UK engagement will undoubtedly remain strong until after the finals, especially if we all turn our attentions to Johanna Konta in her semi-final match against Venus Williams today.
Access to the tennis tournament from the BBC iPlayer and the official Wimbledon app have made it all too easy for employees (and managers!) to keep up with the latest scores and results. And as the tournament progresses, employers may well notice a decline in work productivity across their company.
In 2016, 13.3 million viewers watched the Men’s Singles Final on the BBC. Another 4.8 million viewed the Women’s Singles Final. Luckily for managers, the 2017 final is due to take place on a Sunday, but this is unlikely to stop the hype around the quarter- and semi-final matches during this week. There has been a surge of articles over recent years detailing ways for employees to sneakily watch Wimbledon at work, with some people even going as far as to install a VPN on a work computer.
So as the 2017 Wimbledon finals approach, what can we as employers do to ensure productivity doesn’t dip? I would suggest that trying to stop your employees watching the match is a somewhat fruitless or futile effort. Mobile phones and other technology platforms have made preventing employees from accessing the tournament and other prominent sporting events nigh on impossible.
On top of this, employees who are banned from watching the matches will likely spend the days leading up to the final distracted and on edge. Maybe take an interest in the number of natural breaks your workforce is taking where they may choose to sit in a cubicle, phone in hand, desperately searching for a WiFi connection. If anything, banning the tennis tournament might cause work productivity to plummet further than it would have been if they were allowed to access the scores during the day.
But an even stronger way to approach the Wimbledon work productivity issue is simply to watch the matches as a team or involve the entire office. Perhaps take an afternoon off, get everyone round a few screens, and make Wimbledon a teambuilding exercise. Throw in some Pimms and some nibbles if you’re feeling extra generous.
What effect will this have on employees? For one thing, it contributes to a strong company culture and will bring employees together. Perhaps you have a new employee, an apprentice, or an intern who needs assistance in settling in – how better to achieve this than to bring everyone together for a laugh over Kate Middleton’s facial expressions or why Raonic’s tongue is always loosely hanging out of his mouth?
Not only this, but as a manager you can point out the ways in which your team can learn from the management of Wimbledon. The implementation of rules and protocols, as well as the dedication of players and the teamwork involved from all parties within the match, and everything that happens behind the scenes, can all be pitched to employees as learning opportunities, and it will provide you with a way to keep the afternoon productive at the same time as being enjoyable for everyone.
HR teams especially might pick up a lot from the tournament, as Chris Berry discusses in his article ‘What can HR learn from Wimbledon?’. The team values of Wimbledon are instilled in employees through feedback and group briefings, and Wimbledon shows a willingness to evolve that HR departments can be inspired by in regards to their own team dynamics.
Instead of banning your team’s access to Wimbledon during the last days of the tournament, accept and embrace it as a means by which to encourage team-building, welcome newer employees, or facilitate collaboration amongst different teams who wouldn’t normally interact with one another - the end goal being to make your company culture, team spirit and HR management the best it can be.