40% of men skive off work to watch sport. Are you watching or are you working?

Hannah Sims · 16 Jun

Unless you’ve been living under a large boulder, you’ll probably know that England is about to battle Wales in the Euros… during office hours. The big derby kick-offs at 2pm, causing what can only be described as a double-country-wide crisis of conscience: to watch or to work?

It is predicted that £100 million in economic output will be lost this afternoon alone, and today’s big match is not just a one off…it’s the summer of sport. We’ve got the Euro and Wimbledon final 2016 on the same Sunday (put July 10th in the diary) and there are golf majors, rugby tours… and a something or other happening in Rio.


With coverage throughout the working day and more streamable content than ever, someone has to ask:

“How much time at work do we spend watching sport?”

54% of China's workforce have called in sick the day after a match.

The problem

Two fifths of men will skip work to catch an important match this Summer. Not that cheeky? Half admit to watching an hour of sport whilst sitting at their desk too.

For bosses, the problem isn’t just absenteeism, but ‘presenteeism’ too, as even if employees are physically present in the office and at their desks, they may be mentally disengaged, focusing on non-work-related-sport-related distractions.

And sports broadcasters are in on the ruse: back in 2012 the US channel NCAA, covering the basketball for the aptly titled ‘March Madness’, created a controversial ‘Boss Button’ on their channel so people could switch screens to hide the hoops in favour of an innocent-looking spreadsheet. Harmless fun? The button was hit 3.3 million times!

The solution

It’s hard to block websites and police colleagues. And, actually, global stats show that absenteeism is a bigger problem in areas with stricter attendance and behaviour policies. China, for example, has the highest stats for people calling in sick the day after a match – a huge 54% of China’s workforce have done it! Perhaps laying down the law or adopting an inflexible stance, banning live streaming and monitoring employee activity during matches isn’t the way forward?

But is there a compromise?

If you’re an employer, making sure that your policy is clear well ahead of time will help you to set company-wide, fair expectations and mitigate resentment.

And the answer for employees? Watch in moderation and don’t try and follow everything in the bumper summer to come.


To help you prepare, we’ve identified the top four most distracting events this summer. Whether you’re an employee, or a manager, you’ll thank us later!

Royal Ascot

Distraction Level: Low, there’s limited coverage but a few people could be sneaking off for a flutter or two this week


Distraction Level: Medium, last year 21.1million unique devices tuned in for coverage, up 23% from 2014

UEFA Euro 2016

Distraction Level: High, reaching crisis levels today, when England play Wales at 2pm. Late lunch, anyone?

The Rio Olympics

Distraction Level: Sustained, it lasts from 5-21st August, with late-morning coverage, and there’s something for everyone. At least it’s not in London, right?

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