As this year’s long-awaited football World Cup approaches it will undoubtedly polarize the population between those for which it can be best described as ‘The Beautiful Game’ and the remainder who often feel it is an unwelcome distraction from the rest of daily life. For small businesses it can also spell a period where employee interest in the event, which often involves decisive games being played during normal working hours, can become obsessive and lead to distractions and even unwarranted absence.

Whilst the recovering economy dictates that small businesses (if you pardon the pun) need to keep their eye on the ball, employee satisfaction is an important part of creating and maintaining a well-motivated and committed team – the key to any successful enterprise. Happily we are living in an age where remote or home working is a realistic and often beneficial facet of modern business and this gives a much greater ability to find a solution that can suit everyone.

Effective remote working has been significantly aided in recent years with the evolution of mobile devices, a vastly improved remote communications network and increasingly faster Internet speeds. Many IT systems with remote access can provide the home worker with the same level of systems access that is available in the office environment. However, most office-based server systems can offer staff members some level of remote access, even if it is Web-based access to the company e-mail system. For many workers it is access to communications that is the key consideration.

Unified Communications is another invaluable tool for remote working, but it is also an excellent way to streamline all business telephone calls. Unified Communications makes monitoring all the essential communication tools simple and effective. Everyday business essentials such as your mobile phone/e-mail device, the telephone on your desk, voicemail, the customer database and your digital calendar can all be linked in one information portal.

It also means that contact details are easily retrieved from a central database, voicemails immediately alert you of their presence and there is no need to play ‘telephone-tag’ with someone else in the company as your status is always available to show who is available. Incoming calls are swiftly routed to the appropriate device or person, all of which can be seamlessly planned and programmed into your diary to administer reliable and timely contact with clients or suppliers.

Naturally, for some companies business drivers mean that rigid working hours will need to be maintained, especially for client-facing employees. In these situations it may be advisable to block football or related websites, either permanently, throughout the tournament or during certain working hours, to discourage employee distractions. This is a straightforward procedure for your in-house or outsourced IT support team to administer and can be revoked later if appropriate.

If you decide it is appropriate, making sure that employees can function just as well away from the main company premises; means that businesses can now offer levels of flexibility that just weren’t realistic in the past. Whilst remote working won’t stop football-mad employees wanting to check the latest score or watch key games, it does mean that working hours can be juggled where possible and productivity maintained when traditionally it may have suffered – so everyone can be a winner this summer.