Big sporting events like the football World Cup can be very effective in bringing together office staff, providing a focus around which colleagues can gather and share a bit of fun.

If your country’s represented – not a burden under which we Scots now toil – the tournament can help bring together people from different departments and levels who might not otherwise share a common interest.

From an office sweep, or a friendly bit of banter around the water cooler about that disputed penalty, to an organised gathering in the pub in time for a midweek afternoon kick-off, the value of a shared sporting experience can be immeasurable in encouraging camaraderie and team spirit.

Of course, the opposite can be true, particularly if you work in a multi-cultural company with staff from many different and far-flung countries.

Tensions may be raised in offices with equal contingents of Iranians and Americans, for example, or Indians and Pakistanis, or North and South Koreans – particularly if those nations are pitted against one another in the knock-out stages.

Then there’s the Germans, who have the greatest number of arch rivals out of any team in the tournament.

Those with a high number of Irish workers may well see productivity dip during the tournament, but they can recoup their losses in the office sweep with an each-way accumulator on the number of sickies thrown on the day after England is knocked out.

And, with Italy not having qualified for the first time, it may be possible to get a table in an Italian restaurant in June for the first time in the history of the tournament.

However, the World Cup can also pose problems for employers. If, as a boss, you crack the whip and refuse to give your staff any time-off to watch the match, you risk being branded a Scrooge and plummeting morale.

If, on the other hand, you set up a 50inch plasma screen in the boardroom and buy-in a dozen cases of superager, you risk hangovers for the rest of the week, rampant absenteeism and vomit in the photocopier.

And, again, there are those cultural sensitivities to contend with. Given that Scotland didn’t qualify, which games do you allow your staff to watch? Refuse any time off for the England match and you could be accused of bias, or worse, by your southern-born staff.

If, on the other hand, you close-down the computer system and put the phones on answer for the duration of the England game, you risk having the coat-stand thrown through window in celebration when Harry Kane misses the penalty that would have taken them through to the semis.

So, for those struggling through the minefield, here is the official, Russia 2018 Two Rivers Recruitment Employers’ Guide.

10 simple World Cup tips to keep your staff happy.

  • Don’t, under any circumstances, mention 1978.
  • Tell the staff that, as a gesture of goodwill and as thanks for their hard work, dedication and loyalty, everyone has the afternoon off to watch the match.
  • Don’t tell them the match in question is Panama v Tunisia in the group stages after it’s mathematically impossible for either to qualify.
  • Make sure that, during the match, the wifi’s disabled to prevent staff spread-betting their entire month’s wages to overcome the boredom.
  • Start an office sweep on the number of times English commentators mention the Premier League.
  • Don’t mention Brexit to Nigel from accounts, especially if England exit early.
  • Do your bit for sexual equality by telling all the female staff that, in five years’ time, the women’s world cup will be as popular as the men’s.
  • Then say three Hail Marys.
  • Pray for the start of Wimbledon when you might hear the men in the office talking about something other than football.
  • Enjoy the tournament, the banter and the heartache – it only comes around every four years.