Professionals Set Their Priorities on Pyeongchang

US businesses will lose $1.7B in lost productivity due to employees watching the 2018 Winter Olympics at work

As the world descends upon South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, business professionals across the United States will have their eyes peeled on Pyeongchang. 56% of business professionals plan to watch the Winter Games, according to an Office Pulse study of 568 white-collar workers.

All Eyes on (North) Korea

Not surprisingly, the biggest story heading into Pyeongchang is happening outside the daily competition. 38% of white-collar workers believe the political climate in North Korea is the biggest story hanging over the games. This follows a similar trend from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janerio, when the Zika virus was the biggest story surrounding those games.

What do you think will be the big story around the Olympics?

North Korea: 38%

Russia Ban: 15%

Security: 9%

The NHL not participating: 6%

Heightened tensions with South Korea’s northern neighbor have left a shroud of uncertainty over the Winter Olympics. North Korea’s series of ballistic missile tests and aggressive rhetoric have left many questioning whether the Winter Games may be jeopardized – 8% of white-collar workers went as far as to say that the Winter Olympics should be canceled due to volatility in North Korea. Female professionals (10%) were more likely than men (5%) to say that the games should be canceled.

On the other hand, the precarious situation on the Korean Peninsula has actually driven interest in the Winter Games among business professionals. 16% said that the situation in Pyeongchang made them more interested to watch the Olympics this year compared to past games. Interest over the North Korea situation will likely be a boon to the Winter Olympics, which have generally sagged in popularity compared to the Summer Olympics; just 14% of workers prefer the Winter Games to the Summer Games. Recent news that North and South Korea would form their first ever joint Olympic team at this year’s games will likely generate even more interest.

Working Hard … to Watch the Olympics

With more than half of all business professionals watching the Olympics, email, deadlines and projects may come second to hockey, snowboarding and figure skating. Workers will need to strike a balance between working and watching, and for some, that may be easier said than done.

Fortunately for professionals, at least some employers will let employees get their Olympic fix … with a catch. Nearly a quarter (24%) of employers will let their employees watch the Olympics at work – so long as it doesn’t interfere with business.

Not all businesses will be as accommodating to workers’ Olympic fever, driving 7% of professionals to watch secretly at the office. Who are the stealthy culprits? 1 in 10 Millennials (11%) will keep a prying eye on the Olympic action, followed by 6% of Gen Xers. Unlike their younger colleagues, Baby Boomers (0%) have nothing to hide.

With their priorities set on Pyeongchang, professionals will be eager to keep up with competition results, too. Don’t be too surprised if you see colleagues checking the medal count during a meeting; 1 in 4 white-collar workers (26%) plan to monitor the Olympics from their personal cellphone. Another 23% will follow it on their company laptop or desktop.

Which types of online media will you use to follow the Olympics during the workday?

News Outlets
Live Streaming

Overall, 40% of office workers plan to spend less than 15 minutes following the Winter Olympics during work hours. Some professionals, however, won’t show the same restraint: 24% will spend between 15 minutes to an hour watching the games during the workday. An additional 12% will spend 1+ hour viewing them.

What does this all mean for companies? The Olympic frenzy will drive a $1.7B loss in productivity due to employees watching the games during work hours. On the bright side, Pyeongchang won’t tank productivity nearly as much as Rio de Janeiro. The 2016 Summer Olympics was a money pit for businesses, with a whopping $5.4B in lost productivity. Employers should feel lucky that Michael Phelps isn’t taking up figure skating post-retirement.

Winter at the Watercooler

From the opening to the closing ceremony, businesses can also expect employees to be gabbing about the games around the office watercooler. Nearly 1 in 3 professionals (31%) will talk about the Winter Olympics at work. While the games may dent employee productivity, there’s at least one positive side effect: 33% of Millennials find Olympics chatter to be ‘morale boosting,’ followed by 16% of Gen Xers and 12% of Baby Boomers.

What sport do you think should be added to the Winter Olympics?

Synchronized Skating: 25%

Dog Sledding: 21%

Speed Skiing: 17%

Snowball Fighting: 15%

Ice Climbing: 14%

However, as professionals cheer on Team USA and buzz about the big events, not all office workers will find themselves as inspired as Millennials. More than a third of Baby Boomers (38%) find Olympics chatter at the office ‘distracting.’

When it comes to discussing their favorite events at the games, male and female professionals probably won’t find themselves in the same circles … or ice rinks. 62% of women said that their favorite sport to watch is figure skating, which just so happened to be the sport men overwhelmingly said was their least favorite. On the other hand, 31% of men rated ice hockey as their favorite Olympic sport, which was coincidentally the least favorite among women.

NBC’s Primetime coverage of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics begins on Feb. 8 (Figure Skating) and continues Feb. 9 (Opening Ceremony) at 8 pm ET/ 5 pm PT.


About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit