Kansas City Royals’ mascot Sluggerrr sounded one workplace productivity alert on Twitter:
“Dear bosses of KC, I officially declare Wednesday and Thursday make your employees happy and give them the day off day.”
MLB.TV suggested another diversion:
For the first time in the U.S., people who have an MLB.TV premium subscription package through some participating cable or satellite providers may be able to watch the Royals postseason games streamed live — sitting at their workplace computers or on their mobile devices — said Matt Gould, vice president-communication for MLB advance media.
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Previously they would have had to find a television to view the live action because blackout rules prevented the streaming. Now, MLB.TV says, “authenticated” subscription buyers — provided their pay TV provider has an agreement with TBS, which is broadcasting the American League Championship Series — can watch the live action.
That assumes, of course, that their employers haven’t blocked the MLB website at work.
Whether it’s NCAA March Madness basketball, World Cup soccer or daytime baseball, there always are big tugs on employee attention when big games conflict with work shifts. At least in Kansas City on Wednesday, there are likely to be a lot of employers turning a blind eye to that possible productivity loss.
“Cerner is just as thrilled as the rest of the city and eager to support the Royals. We imagine our campus cafes will be filled and televisions tuned in,” said Victoria Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City-based health care technology company that’s typically known for a strong work ethic.
Workplaces also expect game day absences, and many are fine with it.
Melissa Roberts, marketing director at the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, said her boss knows that she will be leaving work early to attend the game. Her job, like those of many other workers these days, doesn’t require a rigidly defined shift.
“It’s always our policy: Get the job done,” Roberts said. “That’s what’s important.”
At least ticket holders had time to plan workarounds for the Wednesday afternoon game. Monday night’s rainout threw some people’s plans for a loop, creating a possible Thursday afternoon game.
Each time a major work versus sports conflict arises, some researchers try to quantify productivity loss. During this year’s March Madness, for example, the Chicago firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated a whopping $1.22 billion cost nationally for each unproductive work hour during the first week of the college basketball tournament.
Other researchers say it’s impossible to make such declarations given that many workers plan for and get their expected work done outside game time. It’s not as if manufacturing lines grind to a halt around the country.
Realists also point out that there are plenty of other time saps — bathroom and smoking breaks, personal phone calls, Web surfing and water cooler chatting with collegues — that also pull workers off task.
Furthermore, if work slumps at one place, it may pick up mightily at another, notably a sports bar with lots of televisions on the walls.
And if workers end up clustering around office television sets, most human resource experts will say that’s a good thing. It has the benefit of pulling people together and building office morale.