Don’t let the World Cup turn ugly!

And while England’s games are scheduled to take place more-or-less outside of office hours, it’s probably the obligatory revelry that coincides with international football tournaments that will mean some employees might struggle to make it into the office the next day. Some will pull a sickie, while others will try to work from home, if their company has a policy in place that supports this.

Coincidentally, a recent study by the Office of National Statistics found that there are now 4.2 million Britons working from home, the highest since records began in 1998. And from June 30th, right in the midst of the football (half way through the round of 16 to be precise), all workers will be able to request the right to work flexibly. Depending on how England progress, workers may choose to exercise that right with immediate effect. A recent survey of small businesses from eFax found that 24 per cent of employees questioned are now working from home, with 18 per cent who work remotely spending less than 20% of their time in the office.

No one wants to be a killjoy and not let employees enjoy said tournament, which only comes around once every four years, but business is business and the show must go on. With the football on throughout the day and into the night for the next month and flexible working to become a compulsory option for employees, it’s crucial businesses have the right systems in place to enable flexible and remote working to maximise productivity.

For start-ups and smaller businesses, a month of slacking could be catastrophic for the business. Being aware of workers’ rights should employees choose to work from home – be it on a more permanent basis, occasionally, or just while football fever grips the nation – is therefore hugely important when encouraging employees to work as hard as they would normally, but at a time and location that suits them.

In preparation for flexible working becoming part and parcel of everyday office life, and to celebrate the world’s premier sporting occasion, here are a few pieces of advice for enabling home working and letting the workforce enjoy the football without compromising the success of your business.

• Don’t ignore the phones – Even if you’re out of the office or working from home, the phones won’t stop ringing because of 22 men chasing a ball. It may surprise the most ardent fans but not everyone loves football and won’t be dropping everything from 12th June until England are out, or the tournament’s over, whichever comes first. eReceptionist research shows that 59% of people won’t leave a voicemail if their call goes unanswered, with more than a third automatically calling the next business on the list rather than calling back later. Therefore, it’s essential you have an efficient phone system in place, one that can divert calls to the phone you’re using when out of the office.

• Schedule your calls – If the game you’re watching goes to extra time, or worse, the dreaded penalties and you can’t take your eyes off it, have a call scheduler set up so you can choose when you’re available to take calls. Important calls can then be diverted to a friend or colleague who isn’t so obsessed with the beautiful game. You’ll be grateful to have someone else on the end of the line, when these calls convert into valuable sales.

• APP-ly yourself In business as you would in leisure – Mobile phone apps are great for finding out train times, checking in on social media, or playing addictive games, but there’s also a whole host of apps out there such as Evernote and Basecamp, specifically designed to help you do business better while on the go. And more and more small businesses are doing so according to a recent survey by eFax, which found that 87 per cent of small businesses regularly used a smartphone for work. Just don’t get distracted checking the football scores on one of your other apps and miss the deal deadline!

• It’s not just football that is international – International sporting events are as much a celebration of the cultures from across the world that they bring together, as they are the sport itself. If you weren’t already thinking about expanding into overseas markets, this might be the moment to take your business global. But having an office in the UK is expensive enough, so how are you going to afford setting up offices abroad? International virtual numbers, gives you a local presence, and enable you to connect with Neymar, Ronaldo or Messi’s countrymen without them worrying about dialling internationally. Have the international numbers diverted to your mobile so that you don’t have to leave the pub you’re watching the England match in.

• Make full use of the cloud – We’ll be on cloud nine if England win the tournament, but to be on business cloud nine throughout the year, especially if home working is to become more commonplace, you’ll need to turn to cloud services such as internet faxing to continue to give employees access to standard office equipment despite not actually being in the office. Such a system enables access to and storage of important documents in the cloud so they can be retrieved anywhere, something crucial for doing work from home. Aside from keeping costs low, it can be deployed easily and with automatic software updates, means you’re not spending a fortune on maintenance costs, particularly for equipment in multiple locations.