The point here is that I'm based in an office in the U.S. And, while I grew up in a soccer-obsessed culture in Scotland, my country didn't even qualify for the World Cup. Most of my colleagues, meanwhile, are U.S.-born and don't believe the U.S. has a chance of winning (sorry!), but all of us will still be following every kick of every ball.
If that's the scenario in a country where soccer is a non-major sport, imagine what it'll be like in countries where it's akin to religion. And the effect that's going to have on productivity.
With all of that in mind, here are some tips for dealing with the tournament from a business perspective:
Check the schedule
Imagine if your team made it to the Super Bowl, and they held it in the middle of the day on a Thursday. Even if you went to work, you'd want to follow that game, right? That's essentially the scenario desk-bound fans around the world face between June 11 and July 11 this year.
The tournament is being held in South Africa, which poses obvious logistical challenges for fans not on the same continent. And—at least in the early stages—games take place seven days a week, meaning your overseas contacts, or even your colleagues, may well be surreptitiously (or openly) watching the big game at what might seem like a ridiculous hour.
So before calling a client in Brazil or a potential job lead in England you probably want to check to see if their team (or a major contender for the title) is playing. Because even if you get them on the phone, or into a meeting, you probably won't have their full attention. View the official Fifa schedule.
Cut employees some slack
It's an established fact by now that productivity dips during major sporting events that coincide with office hours. Whether it's March Madness, the opening rounds of a major golf tournament or a Grand Slam tennis event, people who follow the sport will likely have one eye—if not both of them—on the events. However, bear in mind that, while it does last for a month, the World Cup only happens once every four years. Because of that, even people with no interest in soccer whatsoever can find themselves turned into ardent fans for one month.
Sure, that email you need an answer to might not get dealt with as urgently as you're used to, but the good news is that soccer is usually a quick affair: 90 minutes for the game, plus a half-time break. Even games that drag on to extra time and penalty shootout eliminations only last two and a half hours.
And the trade-off between a little lost productivity versus the kind of lasting resentment that can be caused by cracking down on employees following their favorite teams doesn't require an advanced degree in psychology to figure out.