I'm doing an internship as a software developer in a startup. When I had the job interview they told me they always need programmers and asked me whether I know someone else from my uni who would like to work for this company. I didn't know anyone of my friends who didn't have an internship yet but I asked in our group chat and one guy replied. I didn't know him but since he's the only one who replied I hooked him up with my (then) future employer and he was accepted for the job.

Yesterday, two months into the internship, he pulled his phone out, placed it next to the monitor and started watching the European football championship while working. We're sitting next to each other in a space in the office where it is unlikely anyone would see him doing it except for me. I chose to ignore it at that time because I knew he would try to argue with something along the lines of "I have to wait for my build anyways". I'm really looking down on that sort of behaviour - especially because he's not doing a great job generally. Even though the both of us are hierarchically on the same level, I cant help but feel responsible for my colleague - I brought him into the company after all.

Should I not feel responsible for him? Should I confront him about it? Should I tell my boss?

Some stuff that might be worth knowing:

  • I don't get paid much, I'm assuming my colleague doesn't either.
  • I know my boss in private (my girlfriend and his wife are friends) and I really like him. I don't want him to pay for someone watching football.
  • My boss said he wants me to work full time for him after the internship but wouldn't offer the same to my colleague but I'm not going to stay at the company so he might reconsider keeping my colleague around.
  • I don't really like my colleague, but I don't feel like that should change the situation.
  • If he got caught with something like this, I don't want my boss to think bad of me for "hiring" someone like that.
  • 19
    Does your company have a workplace rule regarding things like internet usage or listening to music? Also, are these rules culturally loosened for major sports events? (this is not too uncommon in European countries, and I suspect you may be EU-based given you call it "football" and the UEFA Euro 2020 Cup is currently being played) Did this impact your colleague's ability to perform their tasks?
    – Flater
    Jun 18, 2021 at 11:05
  • 54
    Also, just to be clear, you did not hire this person. You connected the company and them, and then the company hired them. That is not to say that there can't be social blowback if it turns out that your recommendation of this person specifically hid red flags that would've led to them not being hired, but the inverse is not equal to you being on the hook for everything this person could do at any point in the future.
    – Flater
    Jun 18, 2021 at 11:07
  • 13
    is he getting his work done?
    – Aaron F
    Jun 18, 2021 at 12:49
  • 11
    Your username was an excellent punchline to this post. Jun 19, 2021 at 12:41
  • 8
    Just fyi, it is not uncommon for businesses in europe to tolerate employees watching major sports events, especially EM/WM.
    – Polygnome
    Jun 19, 2021 at 19:48

3 Answers 3


Is it even the problem?

I frequently watch nature documentaries while working. Yes, I miss most of it, but while my code is building I can learn something about dolphins.

I suppose it depends on the culture/organization, but focus on whether he is getting good results, not on whether he is seeming like he is doing work.

It is very common among people I know to watch other things while coding, sports included, as you can easily pop in and out of that. Obviously not during complex tasks, but there is plenty of routine work that doesn't require your full attention like setting up a form or CSS.

Even if it is a problem, it is on the company to manage this person.

You didn't hire him, you just introduced him. You don't manage him, you just introduced him.

  • 43
    +1 This is especially true while a major football tournament is happening. Lots of employers make exceptions/turn a blind eye during major events. Jun 18, 2021 at 15:23
  • 5
    Right. In a good company, people are paid for results, not for appearing to work. During the World Cup one year, we had it running on large monitors normally used for CI/CD dashboards.
    – user749
    Jun 18, 2021 at 21:49
  • 41
    At my previous company, one day the network was super slow, so nobody could get any work done, so everyone watched the big soccer game. Eventually IT stepped in and said the network was slow because everyone was streaming the soccer game, and to stop, and suddenly the company network was zippy again. Apparently it was a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of deal. (I have no point, it was merely interesting) Jun 19, 2021 at 0:29
  • 3
    In companies I worked for in Europe management got the infrastructure set up so all could watch the football - matches were often at 8am and they preferred workers to get in early and watch the football rather than come in late.
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 19, 2021 at 8:24
  • 1
    @DeveloperACE Depends on the situation. If OP worked for me and recommended the colleague with a glowing review, it would certainly make me question OP's judgment in hiring matters (but unlikely anything else). If OP was honest about why he suggested the colleage ("I asked in a group chat and he responded, but I've never worked with him personally"), I wouldn't think much of it. People recommend acquaintances all the time; the best you can do is note whose work you can personally vouch for and whose you can't.
    – thatgirldm
    Jun 20, 2021 at 22:55

If it's not disrupting your work or your efficiency, then ignore it as much as you can.

Your work is your own responsibility and this guy's is his. If his productivity drops because he's watching TV, then it's the company's problem to deal with.

Your future seems to be pretty safe and his isn't - he probably views this as just being temporary, poorly paid work so can afford to chill a bit while he works.

It's not really down to you to report him or confront him about this.

  • You did not hire him, at most you recommended him.
    That's a difference. Recommending or introducing somebody who does not work out in the workplace puts your judgement regarding personnel matters into question, but then you're not management or HR. It would look very bad if there was nepotism or corruption involved, but here you simply did not show a degree of judgement that would be above your paygrade, anway.
  • You have a right to be annoyed about a disruptive co-worker.
    That is not related to the question of who recommended whom or even who is senior to whom. You're together in a room, you are supposed to do work, and being forced to listen to a soccer match slows your work. That could be resolved if he wore headphones.
  • The company presumably has policy and a culture regarding workspace distractions.
    As a relatively new intern, you might not be aware of all written and unwritten rules. On the one hand, the company expects people who are on the clock to work. On the other hand, nobody can be fully attentive for hours at a stretch and reasonable companies realize this.
    There are places where people need to clock out for a coffee or smoking break, and places where that is not necessary. There are places where management can allow team activities like watching a match, but low-level employees cannot decide that on their own. Or where schedules are adjusted for high-profile sports events, provided the working time is made up at another time.
  • Is it professional to "snitch" on a co-worker?
    That's the key question here. For security violations, the answer is certainly "yes." For something which merely wastes company time, perhaps not. Depends on the company culture.
  • 7
    There is a difference between recommending someone and referring someone. I do not know what happened in this case. But when you're referring someone you don't know, it's usually a good idea to say that you don't really know this person, but that he is in your chat group and that he's looking for a job. In other words, it's definitely possible to make a referral without making a recommendation either way. Jun 19, 2021 at 17:14
  • I'd say "for something which merely wastes company time, surely not". None of your beeswax. Stop worrying about other people. The one possible exception is when your boss (or just the team leader, even if you don't formally report to him or her) asks you however informally how the new guy is doing (because they consider extending his contract or offering him a full position). Uncomfortable because you'd ideally like to work with people better than you, not worse, but you don't want to lie, not even implicitly. Jun 20, 2021 at 14:26

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