You may be no athlete, and you may not know your reverse dive pike from your flic-flac. But the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are still likely to be an important part of your next couple of weeks. Here are some guidelines to make sure your workplace sticks the landing:
Decide on your workplace policies. As with March Madness, companies need to decide on policies ahead of time regarding things like watching sporting events during the day and the use of social media. Experts are counseling flexibility and tolerance, noting that the group bonding engendered by sharing in such events can actually improve company productivity.
“There could be an increase in the use of the internet and social media during working hours,” warns Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), which provides information and advice to employers and employees on workplace relations and employment law. Instead of a hundred employees using up bandwidth by surreptitiously glancing down at the smartphone in their laps, “Why not plan for popular sporting events in advance – perhaps giving staff access to a TV during agreed times?” the organization recommends.
A survey of 894 UK employees by HR and employment law specialist Peninsula claimed that 64 percent of respondents reported being more productive as a result of their employers allowing them to watch sporting events at work. 51 percent of respondents also called for employers to be more flexible during major sporting games, allowing them to start late, leave early or swap their shifts with colleagues.
Moreover, 24 percent said that a lack of flexibility would encourage their decision to call in sick to watch their favorite sporting event, though ACAS recommends coming down hard on such incidents.
“Having a little fun at work by decorating the office, holding themed events and allowing employees to watch the sporting games is great way to improve morale, whilst building loyalty and commitment across your workforce,” says Alan Price, HR director for Peninsula.
Price warns, however, that companies need to be equitable in how they treat employees. “It is important to ensure that equality is upheld in the workplace with regards to making sure all nations are represented and given equal billing,” he says. “Also, don’t assume that women won’t be interested in boxing or that men won’t be interested in gymnastics.”
Are you prepared for an epidemic? Not to say that people will come back from Rio sick, but with Zika so much in the news, it’s not a bad idea to revisit your disaster plan to make sure it covers sickness.
And while your company may or may not be sending employees to Rio, the prospect is causing some companies to take a good look at their travel policies to determine whether employees can turn down a trip if they feel unsafe.
Watch out for Olympics-related crimes of opportunity. Thieves in Rio took advantage of a fire evacuation in the Australian dorm to steal several laptops and team shirts. There’s no indication that the fire was set deliberately for that purpose, but that could happen. The good news is, it alerted officials to the fact that the fire alarms in the Australian dorm were turned off. That also led the organization to reduce down to one the number of people authorized to turn off fire alarms in the first place.
Other bad guys are making money selling fake tickets and other bogus apps. One advantage of having work-sanctioned screenings of Olympic events is that makes it less likely that people might be nabbed by Olympics-related malware. And make sure that when everyone is in the lunchroom watching the women’s gymnastics final, someone can’t sneak in and make off with anything. A lot of attention tends to go to cyber security, but the physical security of your organization and devices is important too.
Ultimately, the smallest thing can set people off. Despite well–publicized issues with construction, exposed wiring, and sewage in the water for the boating events, what’s really getting the athletes upset? The fact that they can’t play Pokemon Go in Rio de Janeiro, because the game isn’t yet supported in Brazil.
“’Sorry guys no #pokemon in the Olympic Village,’ tweeted French canoer Matthieu Pech, followed by three crying-face emoji,” writes the Associated Press. This is despite a personal plea to the game developers earlier this year from Rio mayor Eduardo Paes. “Everybody is coming here. You should also come!” he posted to his Facebook page. But, to no avail, thus far.
It’s a good example of how, when faced with change, people may seize upon something that seems trivial and use that as an excuse to derail the whole process. While you might think that a factor such as the font or the screen color of an app, for example, seems petty, often it’s more effective to give people what they want.
As always, we salute the Olympics, and the Olympians, for celebrating the best in human achievement. Best of luck to all the participants.
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