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Expert: Let Employees Watch Olympics

No pain, no gain

In an age of multimedia accessibility to an information overload, business owners and managers have every reason to be concerned about the entertainment temptations that can pull their employees off task.

Currently, around the world, this is especially true with the excitement of the Summer Olympics, available 24/7 through multiple digital channels and the Internet, with updates and event alerts popping up on cell phones hourly.

But Dave Crenshaw, a time-management consultant to some of the nation's top business executives, says companies are not only wise to allow the inevitable when it comes to their employees sneaking online peaks at the Games, but if managed the right way, it can actually improve productivity.

"The distraction is there," he says. "It's better to acknowledge and manage it so it is not a distraction. Increased productivity is rooted in a staff's ability to focus. Work with your employees to establish guidelines and allow viewing flex time, for example, so when they are working, they can focus."

Not to mention, Crenshaw adds, orchestrating a give-and-take with employees makes for a happier workforce. "And when it comes to productivity, happier is far better."

The issue of focus is at the core of Crenshaw's new business book, The Myth of Multitasking, and he's primed for interviews to discuss its intriguing content as it applies to the daily grind - from watching the Olympics at work, to avoiding the dangers of "multitasking" in a market-driven business world.

As a highly sought-after business coach and time-management expert to some of the country's top business executives, Dave Crenshaw has expanded his reach to that of an author and speaker. He began his coaching career in 1998 as the youngest independent consultant for one of the world's largest small business coaching firms.

Chrenshaw received his B.S. in Business Management-Entrepreneurship from Brigham Young University, one of the nation's top entrepreneur programs. As the creator of TimeGym, a productivity and time management-coaching firm, Crenshaw has helped business owners worldwide.

Crenshaw is one of the foremost experts on the epidemic known as multi-tasking. As a business owner himself, he formerly experienced the struggle of keeping focused. Dave recognized that he needed to re-evaluate how he organized his time. Consequently, he developed the TimeGym system his Certified Time Coaches use to help clients maintain balance in their lives. He is the author of The Myth of Multitasking: How Doing it All Gets Nothing Done.

Crenshaw's often humorous and entertaining approach always hits right on the head with audiences. His speeches to audiences as large as 1,500 people are described as life changing.


Olympic challenge for businesses

Published: 15/08/2008
©2008 The Press and Journal

"SHOULDN'T you be at work?" - the famous words uttered by sports presenter Des Lynam during the BBC's World Cup 1998 coverage may well be repeated by many an employer over the next week or so.

As the Olympic Games in Beijing come to an exciting climax, businesses are once again facing up to the challenges posed by a major sporting event.

But there are ways to ensure that the 29th Olympiad does not add to the headaches being suffered by credit-crunched employers.

And, with a bit of luck, businesses will manage to keep absences to a level equivalent to Great Britain's eventual medal haul and ensure that as few working hours as possible are lost due to Olympic fever.

They may even be able to harness the Olympic spirit and use it to boost morale in the workplace.

The difficulties posed by the Olympics have been seen before, but are, arguably, greater than ever.

Unexplained absences, poor time-keeping and low productivity have all been symptoms of World Cup, Wimbledon and Open golf tournaments for many years.

During the 2006 World Cup, one poll showed that 13% of men and 4% of women had called in sick either to watch or recover from a football match and the attendant celebratory or sorrow-drowning consequences.

And a survey in New Zealand has estimated that its national economy will lose more than £5.5million due to the working hours lost as a result of the Olympic Games.

This year, television coverage of the Olympics generally starts at 2.50am, so even if employees are at work physically, they may not be mentally attuned to the task in hand by the time they arrive at their desks.

And what exacerbates the challenges in 2008 is that these are the "digital games". Media coverage from Beijing, across a multitude of digital channels and a vast array of websites, means the Olympics can be accessed from anywhere.

The BBC is offering more than 2,000 hours of live streaming video and 3,000 hours of "on demand" content. Even in organisations that prevent staff from viewing such material, tomes of constantly updated content in other formats can be found on just about every news agency's website.

Plus, the Olympics are readily available on many workers' mobile phones, and the BBC is even sending its viewers text alerts when the next big event is about to start.

All this brings the employee closer than ever to the action and, for this reason, employers would be well advised to embrace the Olympic spirit and adopt a flexible approach to the games.

Restating annual leave and disciplinary policies before the events begin is always recommended, and employers could consider allowing radios or TVs into the workplace.

Another option could be to adopt a flexi-time approach which allows staff to make up any hours missed through watching the Olympics at other times during the working day or week.

But whatever policies they adopt, employers must be careful to ensure that they do not, directly or indirectly, discriminate against any of their staff.

For example, accommodations made to cater for sports enthusiasts must be offered to all staff regardless of sex, age or race.

If British staff are permitted to watch Team GB compete in one event then staff of other nationalities ought to be accommodated when they want to follow their respective countries' progress.

It may even be necessary to allow those employees who are not interested in the Olympics the equivalent time off, perhaps at a later date.

Tesco's policy during the 2006 World Cup is a useful model. It installed televisions in its staff canteens and allowed staff to take time off, swap shifts and take breaks to watch matches.

It communicated its policies extremely well through posters and a newsletter and used the World Cup as a team-building event.

The company negotiated the pitfalls of discrimination law effectively by encouraging employees to bring their national flag to work so that it could be displayed alongside those of their colleagues.

And by creating special footie-free areas, it also ensured that those employees who were apathetic towards events in Germany did not feel disenfranchised or discriminated against.

So the Olympics should not be seen as something to censor, but should be used as a tool to re-engage with staff. The challenges presented by this year's Olympics will surely be more acute four years from now when they are on our doorstep.

If these challenges are managed correctly, however, staff might feel less inclined to stay at home and curl up with the Des Lynams of the day.

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