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The Solar Eclipse Could Cost Employers $694 Million in Lost Productivity

Monday’s solar eclipse might only last two and a half minutes, but it could cost employers $694 million.

That’s the amount outplacement company Challenger Gray & Christmas came up with after crunching the numbers. Using information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the firm predicts that roughly 87 million workers (out of over 123 million in the U.S) will be at work come eclipse time. It goes on to project that employees will need about 20 minutes to find a viewing spot and watch the show unfold.

For these workers, the average hourly wage works out to $23.86 an hour — which means by fritting away 20 minutes, each viewer costs his or her employers $7.95. Multiply that by 87 million and voila: $694 million in lost productivity.

While these projections admittedly make a lot of assumptions, it’s safe to assume workers will be distracted come Monday morning.

For its part, Challenger Gray & Christmas is not recommending that employers “board their windows and keep employees locked up in conference room meetings until the eclipse ends,”Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a statement. (Phew). “Rather, looking for how to turn this lack of productivity into a way to increase morale and strengthen the team is a much better use of the eclipse… It offers a great opportunity to boost morale. Employers could offer lunch to their staff, give instructions on how to make viewing devices, and watch together as a team.”

If you do happen to work at a company going the “board up the windows” route, despair not. The next solar eclipse visible from parts of the U.S. takes place on Oct. 14, 2023.