If your calls aren't answered at lunchtime today, try after 2 p.m. Soccer fans might be taking an extended lunch.
Unfortunately for office productivity, the U.S. soccer team's noon ET game against Germany is a less convenient time slot than Sunday night's showdown between the U.S. and Portugal — which ended in a 2-2 tie and was the most-watched soccer game ever in the U.S.
"It's safe to say productivity will be down a little bit around lunchtime," laughs Jed Hamilton, director of communications for Jive, a software company. "Hopefully we will get a little work done."
In Hamilton's New York City office, more than a dozen TVs will be tuned to the game right in the middle of the workday.
The kick to productivity could cost employers about $390 million in lost wages, calculates John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger Gray and Christmas in Chicago.
Challenger cautions there's no way to estimate the impact on office productivity with certainty. He says his estimate assumes the game draws at least 16 million viewers — the number who watched the U.S. vs. Ghana game — and that 8 million are employed and on the clock. Assuming they take a two-hour break to watch the game and they make $24.38 an hour — what the government says the average U.S. worker earned an hour in May — Challenger calculates $390 million.
"No question that people are going to be watching this game while at work," says Challenger. "They're going to find a way to do it. There's too much interest and too much accessibility for people not to find a way to watch a game."
At digital strategy firm Huge's office in Brooklyn, employees are opting to go to work — and for good reason.
"There will be free beer," says communications director Michelle Pulman. "We're ordering pizza. People will be drinking and having fun together instead of leaving."
The office of BlueCross BlueShield in Buffalo plans to have all 10 televisions in the lunch and fitness centers tuned to the game.
"We won't publicly tell employees that they can take a long lunch or anything," says spokesman Kyle Roger. "We also did this when the U.S. men's hockey team played during the Olympics."
Roger, a soccer player himself, says the company hopes anyone who wants to see the entire game will record it to watch after work.
Tony Cappaert, founder of Washington, D.C., software start-up Contactually, will let his 20 employees put work aside for a long lunch watching the game on 25-foot screens set up in DuPont Circle.
"At the end of the day, happy employees are good employees," Cappaert says. "I think we're willing to take the two-hour hit."