Half of IT managers believe staff should be banned from streaming football matches on their desktop computers during the forthcoming football World Cup.

The findings are provided by a survey by networking firm Blue Coat Systems that also suggests a gigabyte of bandwidth per user could be swallowed up and network resources strained by employees trying to steal a sneaky peak at the football matches many of which will take place during normal offices hours due to the tournament being staged in South Africa. Meanwhile, another survey by broadband providers Eclipse Internet found that 54% of workers plan to watch World Cup matches at work, setting up problems ahead of the tournament beginning on June 11th.

A streamed football match would eat up as much as 750MB of bandwidth and the big fear is that England’s final group game against Slovenia that kicks off at 3pm on 23 June could cripple businesses who have not planned ahead. With later rounds also including late afternoon games it is not just a one-off event but a month of potential disruption to employee and network efficiency.

The advice from the IT managers surveyed is to make sure your company has a specific and clear policy about using the internet for accessing coverage of games during the tournament. Yet, for those running businesses that is not the only concern with the World Cup just around the corner. The charity Drinkaware has warned of a likely increase in employees turning up to work with hang-overs or possibly grabbing a lunch-time drink to watch games, leading to impaired performance and a risk of errors that could be fatal to your business.

With staff absence also expected to rise as the tournament progresses and potential mental health impact on employees when their supported nation exits the competition, the impact on businesses could be devastating if they have not properly prepared and don’t have suitable policies in place.

How are you planning to cope with the ’strain’ of the World Cup?