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If you can't beat 'em, set up a TV in the cafeteria

A trader uses a phone during a soccer broadcast.

Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images

World Cup fever is set to trigger headaches for HR and IT managers at businesses big and small around the world.

For one, there's likely to be a higher than normal level of absenteeism in certain countries when their nations are playing. Italians, for example, maybe unusually absent from work June 14, 20 and 24 while Brits may be scarce June 12, 18 and 23.

Then there's the issue of network traffic: With games streamed live and on-demand, more than a few employees may be tempted to catch up on the action online. Given the density of data they'll be pulling, it could cause corporate networks to slow to a crawl as all those video packets are routed through.

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Of course, company executives can attempt to nip this all in the bud with a well-timed missive reminding staff that work is work and play is play and that World Cup games are strictly for outside work consumption.

But that wouldn't be very sporting, says Susan Doniz, former Canada CIO at multi-national giant Procter and Gamble and newly promoted to run global service for P&G's line of beauty and grooming products.

"We had this issue when I was in Argentina with P&G," she says. "I wanted to book a meeting and everyone said, 'oh, no, you can't at that time that day.'"

At first the idea a mere soccer game would interfere with productivity was a complete culture shock but she soon became a convert to the game.

"In Argentina, in Buenos Aires, I never saw the streets so empty as when there was a big game on," she says. "I worked all over Latin America and Mexico and in Europe too. At one point we realized that because a game was on there would be no one to run the production line at one of our factories. It seemed absurd that a soccer game would shut down a line but we had to do something to accommodate the employees. We set up TVs in the common area so they could watch the game."

P&G employees this time around across the globe will be encouraged to come to the common areas to watch games on TV.

"It's a two for one," says Doniz. "One, it's good from an employee moral aspect. You have young people, older workers, everyone, sharing a moment together. In fact, it becomes strange if they stay in their cubicles and don't socialize. And of course, it means the network isn't getting slowed down."

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It also cuts across all levels, she adds, meaning it's truly a moment shared in fun and not fabricated.

"I think our Global CIO is Italian so I'm betting he's going to be watching with everyone too."

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