I think it’s a good thing productivity is taking a dip during the World Cup

by | Jul 1, 2014 | General Productivity

Takeaway: Studies show that productivity takes a dip during major events like the World Cup, but I think those studies are short-sighted since events like the Word Cup can make employees closer, which makes them more productive in the long-run. Deeper and more meaningful office relationships can make you 10x more likely to be engaged, 40% more likely to get a promotion, and 50% more satisfied with your job.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 30s.


I’ve seen quite a few articles over the last few weeks about how worker productivity is expected to dip during the World Cup—Captivate Networks estimates that the U.S. will lose $1.68 billion in lost productivity, for example—but I think that’s a good thing.1 A very good thing.

Here’s why, in a nut: Studies show that two of the strongest contributors to productivity and motivation at the office are how much energy you invest into maintaining social bonds with your coworkers, and how deep your office friendships are.

Three different studies found that:2

  • Office friendships increase your job satisfaction by about 50%
  • You are seven times more likely to be highly engaged at work when your best friend works at the same place
  • “[P]eople who initiate office friendships and are engaged in official social activities are 40 per cent more likely to get a promotion”

Sean Achor, a positive psychology researcher at Harvard, has also researched how much more motivated, happy, and productive people are when they take time to invest in their relationships with coworkers. As he noted in his excellent book Before Happiness:

“After surveying over three hundred research participants from various occupations, we identified several distinct types of social support providers, including ‘work altruists’ (who provided the most social support at work) and ‘work isolators’ (who provided the least). Here’s where it gets interesting. When we looked at the correlation with work engagement, we found that only 5 percent of work isolators were extremely engaged in their jobs and that work altruists were ten times more likely to be highly engaged than work isolators. What’s more, over half of the work altruists got along “extremely well” with coworkers, as compared to only about 20 percent of isolators. Work altruists were twice as likely as work isolators to be satisfied with their jobs, and almost two-thirds of work altruists reported excellent relations with supervisors.”

(emphasis mine)

Sure, when employees watch the World Cup their output decreases (duh, they’re watching the freaking World Cup), but I would vehemently argue that the deeper social bonds they form during the process more than compensates for that lost output. Plus, most people are smart enough to plan their work around the games anyway.

It may be difficult to see the productivity gains to watching the World Cup with your team, especially when those gains are nuanced and long-term, but I see the World Cup like a team building exercise, only it’s totally free and people actually want to do it.

Make the World Cup an event—not something people have to watch in another tab on their computer.


  1. Source: https://gma.yahoo.com/world-cup-taking-bite-worker-productivity-111555370–abc-news-topstories.html 

  2. http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/economics/build-friendships-at-work-and-watch-productivity-soar 

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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