07/13/2014 10:00 am ET

How Companies Scored Productivity Goals During The World Cup

World Cup television ratings scored huge points. Even as the U.S. went out of play, the World Cup achieved quarterfinal viewership records when Brazil defeated Colombia and Germany won over France. Considering that most matches were played during weekday afternoons in the U.S., this could have been bad news for business productivity. But for many, it wasn't.

At Blue Jeans Network we like to think we know a thing or two about business communications and productivity. After all, our mission is to make face-to-face business collaboration easy, from any location. We analyzed meeting behavior during U.S. games to see how it measured up to a normal day. We found that meetings decreased by almost 20 percent when the U.S. played. While this data could signal a decrease in productivity, many savvy companies looked at the World Cup as an opportunity to actually boost employee engagement and build company culture. Here are a few simple guidelines that can help your company do the same for the rest of the World Cup and the occasional major event that takes place during the work day.

1. Give Employees Permission to Watch. As we know from the meeting data, many employees are watching events like the World Cup with or without your permission so go ahead and give it. Your employees will be grateful and happy that you appreciate the importance of these events. Make it clear that this permission comes with responsibility for the employee to schedule important projects around games and continue to meet important deadlines.

2. Have Fun and Build Company Culture. You've given permission to watch the events, now pair that fun with team building activities. Stream these events in a central place in the office to bring people together. Have different departments sponsor key games by providing treats or decor and have a team lead from each department kickoff the screening with an update on that department's activities or recent accomplishments. Integrate employees that are working outside the company headquarters through video conferencing. Make friendly wagers with your overseas colleagues and send fun facts and memes around the office surrounding the events.

3. Provide Tools for Flexible Work and Collaboration. If you encourage a flexible work environment, give your team the tools they need to be successful at collaborating. Make sure employees have access to technologies like video, chat and other collaboration tools so they are able to maximize productivity and stay connected with their teams, no matter where they are.

4 See Your Team For Maximized Results. World-class teams practice together in order to achieve team chemistry and work as a seamless unit. In the business world, face-to-face communication is also critical, as a recent survey of business professionals found that 71 percent believe they lost a sales deal due to a lack of face time. Face-to-face drive better personal connections, help with memory recall and reveals important body language.

Rather than being a productivity drain, the World Cup has been a point of engagement and connection for many businesses and employees alike. Now it's time to apply these these tips and lessons learned to the next major event to foster company excitement and relationship building that results in a happy and productive workplace.