The 2012 Summer Olympics will offer a technologically unprecedented opportunity for workers to plug in and slack off to watch live-streaming games on smartphones, tablets or company computers. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that the London games, which get under way July 27, will hurt productivity much more than previous Olympics.
No doubt employees will take time on the job to click and follow gymnastics, swimming, track and field or any other of the 305 events from 32 sports through Aug. 12, 2012. NBC said it will be streaming all of them live on NBCOlympics.com, starting with early-round women’s soccer two days before the opening ceremony.
Challenger Gray & Christmas, the global outplacement consulting firm, places the Olympics among the top productivity-sapping sports events, and notes that live streaming and fast Internet connections make it easy to watch at the workplace. The firm, however, sees the boundaries between work and personal life disappearing and said companies are starting to measure productivity in quality and quantity of work, not in undistracted hours clocked at the office.
Employees will dive in
With NBC and Facebook joining forces to foster viewership and social media discussion of the games, it might be hard for even the most diligent employees to resist taking an Olympics break. On the other hand, the big time difference between London and the United States, and the tradition of evening Olympics-viewing with family and friends on network television, could keep productivity from taking a 10-meter dive.
“I think from a technology standpoint it’s going to be easier than ever to watch the Olympics from work” instead of working, technology forecaster Daniel Burrus, CEO of Burrus Research, said. “When I take in the human factor, I think we’re not going to see a major problem.”
Burrus said the 2012 Summer Olympics will be “a major event for smart phones and tablets,” for athletes as well as viewers. Members of the Singapore Olympics team are being equipped with Galaxy S3 smart phones so they can tweet and post Facebook updates from the event, he said.