Canada's Olympic athletes are off to a strong start in Sochi, so perhaps it's to be expected that some employees will put productivity on the back burner for the next week or so as they furtively check the TV or Internet for results. But rather than crack the whip, some of Canada's major Olympic sponsors are encouraging their employees to follow the Games while they are at work – and are even giving them unique ways to do so.
Like so many Games before, this year's event in Russia will take place while most Canadians are sleeping, meaning they'll be tempted to catch up during the day while they're at work.
If you happen to work for Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Tire Corp., or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., however, following the action is even easier from the office.
That's because these companies – some of the Canadian Olympic team's biggest sponsors – feel that watching the Games at work and cheering on Canadian athletes is a great way to bring employees together.
"An engaged, excited, motivated work force is good for any company," said Rob Nicol, vice-president of corporate affairs at Canadian Tire.
"The Olympics bring together the entire country, and they bring together our employees, and our employees are rightly proud of our sponsorship of the team."
Nearly every Canadian Tire office has set up a viewing lounge, where employees can catch CBC's coverage of the Games while relaxing in beanbag chairs and enjoying refreshments. The lounges have also been decked out with Canadian flags and team gear.
Last year, the retailer held a contest calling for video submissions that showcased employees' sports-reporting skills. The four winners are in Sochi to cover the Olympics on behalf of their fellow employees. The teams are attending sporting events and interviewing athletes, families and coaches. And they are also hanging out at Canada House, a gathering point for Canadian athletes at the Games.
The Canadian Tire employees' behind-the-scenes footage will be shown on a website available to all employees that will also feature stories from athletes sponsored by the company.
Olympic sponsor Samsung Canada has also sent two of its employees to Sochi to document the Games. They'll be posting their reports on Samsung Canada's social media channels. Through Samsung's "Notes from Home" campaign, employees and customers can also send personal messages to athletes, which will be on display at Canada House in Sochi during the Games.
Jane Broderick, chief brand and communications officer for Royal Bank of Canada. which has sponsored the Games since 1948, hopes that the spirit of hard work and perseverance embodied by the athletes in Sochi will be a source of inspiration in the bank's workplace.
"We have a values-based culture, and the values of the Olympics and the values of RBC are so aligned," she noted.
"[The Olympics] actually inspires people to look at high levels of performance and excellence and commitment and perseverance. Those values are so deeply entrenched [in the Games], and we should encourage observation of others experiencing this type of excellence in performance," Ms. Broderick said.
In the weeks leading up to the Games and throughout their duration, RBCnet, an internal network accessible to RBC staff, is providing inside information about the 14 Olympians RBC is sponsoring, and allowing employees to comment on the Games. The bank is also posting daily updates on Canada's medal count and how the RBC-sponsored Olympians are faring. Those Olympians are also sharing videos and pictures of their experiences with the bank's staff.