An urban legend proclaims that Barack Obama said he watches cricket to understand why his country’s production goes down by 5% whenever Sachin Tendulkar is batting. Though America and India’s productivity may have increased after Sachin’s retirement in 2013, the passion and craze about cricket still remains. The recently concluded cricket world cup was the most watched World Cup ever. Luckily for all Indians around the world, India played most of its league matches on weekends. One of their matches also happened to (or was made to) coincide with Holi, a holiday in India!
However, the BCCI and the organizers couldn’t do anything about the Quarter Finals and Semi Finals. Since India played Bangladesh in the quarter final which was quite an easy prospect, there wasn’t much excitement about that match. But the semi-final against Australia was India’s biggest match of the tournament and no fan wanted to miss it. Consequently, HR and Leadership teams in companies all over India started getting requests for half day leave, full day leave, screens to be put up in cafeterias and what not.
Every company handled the problem differently. Some of them already had TVs in cafeterias. Some actually put up screens for their employees. Some didn’t relent and asked employees to apply for leave and enjoy the match at home rather than wasting productive hours in office. But almost everyone followed the match some way or the other and work was sure to get impacted. So how big was the impact? Here is how the comparison looks like –
Among the companies considered, there was an average drop in On-PC work time of 0.4 hours. The average increase in private time, no doubt in sites like Cricinfo and StarSports.com was also 0.4 hours. There was also an increase of 0.2 hours in the unaccounted time. All in all, there was a drop of at least 1 hour of PC time per user on 26th March 2015. For a company with 1,000 employees that is 1,000 productive hours lost which is equivalent to 125 man days! This is just loss of time. When you think of loss of focus due to constant checking of scores or analysis of the current state of the match and prediction of the future, the loss is even more.
So what’s the solution? Well, there is no one-fits-all solution. On a personal front, I think if I get to see such reports for myself, I would be alarmed. “Did I spend 1 hour of non-productive time in office?” Personally, it will definitely make me think. I am pretty sure that if everyone gets to see such analysis for themselves, they will also do a little introspection. That introspection might lead to some good results – either I will finish my work in advance and watch the match peacefully without worrying about the work at that time or I might just take an off to watch the match in a guilt-free way or I might just concentrate on work for some time (when the match is yet to gain momentum) and then enjoy the match later. In any case, I will definitely prefer not to watch the match and think about work or try to work and think of the match simultaneously because the report shows me that it is non-productive anyway.
From the perspective of the organizations, a leading financial firm had a good idea – it gave a holiday on the match day and asked the employees to work on the next Saturday. This way, the employees enjoyed the match and worked in distraction-free manner on Saturday. If not, then it might be better to encourage employees to take a leave as long as there is no adverse impact on the business.