Is the solar eclipse distracting your staff?

Productivity set to take a hit as workers head outside to watch the phenomenon

Is the solar eclipse distracting your staff?
Workers heading outside to witness a unique solar eclipse on Monday are expected to cost North American employers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity.

For the first time in nearly a century, a transcontinental total eclipse will pass over the United States on Monday afternoon, with a partial eclipse visible across Canada, too.

With US workers expected to take an average 20 minutes to pop outdoors and witness the 2.5-minute eclipse, employers could lose US$694 million in output, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Its estimate is based on average hourly wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, Challenger adds, the loss could be much higher if workers spend extra time setting up cameras and telescopes, or even taking the day off.

"There's very few people who are not going to walk outside when there's a celestial wonder happening above their heads to go out and view it," Challenger said.

Canada’s productivity is also expected to take a hit, with protective glasses selling out across the country in preparation for the phenomenon.

While Victoria had the best vantage point on Monday morning – with up to 91 percent of the sun eclipsed – the rest of Canada also gets a chance to witness the eclipse throughout the day.

The eclipse will begin in Toronto at 1.10pm, reach its midpoint about 2.32pm, and end at 3.49pm, with up to 76 percent of the sun eclipsed.

If your staff are planning to take time out to witness the eclipse, encourage them to view it through a solar filter made specifically for viewing a partial solar eclipse, including for a camera or telescope, as it can cause otherwise permanent eye damage.

Canada previously saw total eclipses in 1963, 1972, 1979 and 2008, with the next opportunity in 2024.

Related stories:
Why you should encourage ‘unexpected breaks’
Should managers encourage fun in the office?

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