WORLD CUP

As World Cup games play, workers on job take a really long coffee break

Many bosses in South Florida are actually encouraging their employees to get away from their tasks and watch their favorite teams compete in the World Cup.

cherrera@MiamiHerald.comJuly 1, 2014 

As the most contested matches of the World Cup play out on screens across offices in South Florida, employees take extra-long breaks — about two hours’ too long — to watch their team.

Well, employees, your employers are taking note as your eyes follow the ball on TV screens and live streams. Now, some are taking action — just not the kind of action you were expecting.

“Let them watch soccer!” the bosses say.

Even in writing this story, the reporters stopped for a moment to wa ...

OK, now back to work:

Employees don’t need a note like the one U.S. team coach Jurgen Klinsmann issued last week to excuse workers during the match against Germany. Employers are convinced: Watching the World Cup helps business.

Businesses across South Florida are feeding World Cup fever, encouraging employees to watch the games, shout their passion and pause production to enjoy soccer.

At Coconut Grove-based advertising firm Alma Agency, the lobby has been landscaped in artificial green turf and soccer nets, and oversized poster-board heads of key players recline against the walls.

The multicultural agency, which has employees from more than 20 nationalities, welcomes employees to support their countries by watching the games on TV screens in the kitchen area, said Communications Manager Daniella Biffi.

Some bring their laptops and multitask. All bring their team spirit.

In a creative workplace like Alma’s, Biffi said, wellness and excitement contribute to productivity.

“If you have happy people, they’ll bring better results,” she said.

At the delancyhill law firm in Miami, the World Cup is helping build relationships with clients.

Attorney Marlon Hill said watching the games has been a great source of networking and connecting with clients.

“I have scheduled about three client meetings during games and they haven’t been less productive and you get a chance to talk about the games and connect,” he said.

Coffee breaks, lunch breaks and meetings are all scheduled around the World Cup because most games are smack in the middle of the workday, he said.

“It’s only for a month, only every four years,” Hill said. “How painful can that be?”

Not very painful at all, seems to be the response from South Florida businesses.

At Rokk3r Labs, a Miami Beach tech portfolio company, conference rooms are set up with flat screens streaming games for their diverse team of employees to work and watch.

“It’s great for team building and people are passionate about it and it’s better that they are together and still able to work and collaborate,” said director of growth Charles Walter.

And at Pipeline Brickell, a shared workspace for entrepreneurs and start-ups, the excitement has supercharged a community of employees representing more than 100 companies and a wide array of countries.

“We foster a community so this is perfect way for us to create an ambience where people can get together,” said co-founder Philippe Houdard.

The cafe room often fills with food from each day’s battling countries, and when the U.S. plays, crowds of about 50 squeeze under the glare of the TVs to cheer, hiss and boo.

Houdard said he was worried at first that the ruckus would disrupt other employees, but once the games began it became clear that everyone was on board.

“Everybody runs into the main room as opposed to being disruptive,” he said. “It’s unifying.”

As the U.S. prepared to take on Belgium on Tuesday afternoon, work came to a halt and patriotism rang through offices with many tweeting #webelieve.

The Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida gathered together for the U.S. game inside their Miami conference room, where their boss bought employees late lunches.

Employees had the option to work in the conference so they wouldn't miss a second of the game, said Michelle Williams, event and marketing coordinator.

Some employees skipped office World Cup celebrations in favor of local sports bars. At Carolina Ale House in Doral, Ricardo Serasac, who works for the U.S. Southern Command, said he took time off from work for the game.

“My office is showing the game on a big screen TV, but there’s no alcohol involved — so I’d rather take off,” he said.

Serasac said as soccer has gained popularity in the U.S., it’s become more acceptable to take time off from work for the World Cup. “It’s gotten easier the last three or four World Cups,” he said.

Some bosses even took their employees on a field trip for the game. Juan Millan, who works for Tek Systems, was with nine coworkers — including his boss — at Carolina Ale House to watch the U.S.-Belgium game.

“The company lets us leave early as long as we were productive this morning,” Millan said.

The Workshop employees traveled to Miami Beach restaurant Cecconi's for the game in their red, white and blue colors.

After the game, the creative collective employees could continue their celebration elsewhere instead of returning back to their Wynwood office.

“Its great supporting our team,” said Maile Gamez, partner and communications director at The Workshop. “We work really hard here and it’s a great way to let go of some of the stress and have fun with the colleagues.”

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