NEW YORK - At Kilkenny House, workers are peering out of the kitchen, catching glimpses of World Cup games on the restaurant's TV screens. At Edmunds.com, employees and their bosses are gathered in a large room to watch.
Many small-business owners are accommodating or even indulging employees' passion for World Cup soccer, either giving them time off to watch the games, or making it easy for them to follow the matches while they're working. And not just for the U.S. games. Owners are aware that the diversity of their staffs means many employees are interested in games from a variety of countries.
Still, there is work to be done, and most owners aren't giving workers unlimited time to watch World Cup. Owners face some of the same issues when March Madness arrives. During the first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament, games start at noon Eastern time.
Employees wanting to watch sporting events is nothing new. Decades ago, World Series games were all played during the day, and stadiums were filled with people who took time off. In Chicago, the Cubs didn't play night games until lights were installed in Wrigley Field in 1988.
Here is a look at how some companies are juggling work and World Cup:
At Ocean View Landscaping in Delaware, owner Mitch Boyle had to cancel jobs the first day of the games, when Mexico and South Africa played to a 1-1 tie. Several of his workers, who are Mexican, told him they wouldn't be working that day.
Boyle was an understanding boss. "It was important to them," he said. The Ocean View workers also took some time off when Mexico played Uruguay on Tuesday.
Many owners have decided to make it easy for staffers to see their favorite teams.
Avi Steinlauf, president of auto information provider Edmunds.com, realized during the 2006 World Cup games that many staffers wanted to watch. This year, the company decided, "let's get ahead of the curve and really endorse all the matches of all the different countries and facilitate people's ability to do that," he said.
Employees can take time away from their desks to watch the three big-screen TVs in a large room at Edmunds.com's Santa Monica, Calif., headquarters. Some bring their laptops and keep working while they watch.
The plus for the company: "It's been a great camaraderie builder," Steinlauf said. "As long as they get their work done, we're happy with it."
Management consultants have long advocated that small companies hold gatherings such as picnics and lunches to create good will with employees. Ashley Morris, owner of Capriottis Sandwich Shops, has organized breakfasts at 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. at a restaurant near his company's Las Vegas headquarters.
At the office, there are four TVs with the sound turned down that employees can look at. "For the most part, they're working," Morris said. But, if the U.S. is playing, "we go to Plan B, and allow people to watch it when it's going on."
"It's good to give back to your employees like that," Morris said.