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Companies anticipate World Cup fever, and slackers

France 24, Jun 15

As the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Russia on Thursday, more than 50 percent of French people surveyed have said they plan to watch Les Bleus play, even if the match is scheduled during work hours.

Like it is in many countries around the world, football in France is akin to religion. While the French national team’s debut match against Australia at the World Cup is conveniently scheduled for noon on Saturday, its other two Group C games fall during work hours, due to an unfortunate one-hour time difference with Russia.

Yet French fans are not likely to be deterred. A recent study by the Qapa employment agency found that 52 percent of respondents said they would watch the World Cup during work hours, and that 57 percent planned to leave the office early in order to do so.

While the World Cup is a boon for some businesses (think broadcast media, sporting goods stores and food delivery services), it is an unwelcome distraction for others. The month-long tournament can be an excuse for workplace absenteeism or slacking off, as fans take a break from their duties to watch a match.

Although there is no official data on how the World Cup impacts productivity in France, a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London estimated that decreased activity during the 2006 competition cost the world economy $4.8 billion, with the greatest losses in Europe at $2.8 billion.

This has led some businesses to adopt a more lenient attitude towards the tournament. In the run-up to this year’s competition, corporate publications abounded with pieces advising employers to indulge their staff in a little World Cup fever. The underlying message: a happy workplace is a more productive workplace.

In an interview with the French online business publication Le Journal des Entreprises, Ludovic Lefebvre, associate director of Sedao, which will project the World Cup in its Paris offices, said, “It’s a win-win: we show a little flexibility, and we get it in return without difficulty”.

Around one-third of businesses in France are expected to broadcast the World Cup matches, according to a poll of more than 500 companies by the office leasing agency LocauxBureaux.

Among them is Region Jobs, an employment firm with 210 staff members in France. “We’re going on the principle that not everyone is going to be 100 percent focused on their job and their mission during the French team’s matches,” CEO David Beaurepaire told AFP. “Instead of trying to control or prevent them… we’ve left fans who want to watch the match with the responsibility to compensate for the time”.

Other companies that plan on airing World Cup matches during work hours in France include a number of the event’s sponsors, such as Crédit Agricole bank, supermarket giant Carrefour and Coca-Cola. Adidas also intends to invite employees to watch France’s 5 p.m. game against Peru on June 21.


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