Not Every Office Lets Fans Fly Their Team Colors

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Football season is the perfect time for game-watching parties, tailgating and wearing your team colors with pride, but fans would be wise to leave heated rivalries -- and inappropriate team attire -- out of the office.

Although most employees know the difference between a friendly challenge and more spiteful competitiveness, the emotions of football season can heat things up, especially when coworkers are wearing team apparel with pride, says Lori Kleiman, human resource expert and founder of Lori Kleiman HR.

"If someone came into a Chicago office in a Green Bay Packers jersey they might get a comment or two, but hopefully everyone would laugh about it -- it all goes back to the culture of the organization," Kleiman says. "In offices where everyone is rooting for a different team, it comes down to having respect in the workplace."

At many offices nationwide, rivalries are taken in stride, and that's as it should be, says Taki Skouras, CEO of Alpharetta, Ga.-based cellphone accessory company Cellairis.

"Our office is full of sports enthusiasts, so naturally the office becomes a little more intense during the fall," Skouras says. "We love it! Everyone wants to show pride for their favorite teams, and who could blame them? Our office is very tight knit, so everyone knows to take the jabs in stride. It allows for a fun, competitive atmosphere."

It's true that fights in the workplace are rare, and seldom do they start over a sports rivalry or the team colors someone is wearing, Kleiman says. The bigger issue employers tend to worry about is lack of productivity.

"Most HR directors don't mind their people wearing game-day apparel, but most of them are not cool with everyone standing around discussing the latest on their office pool or rehashing last week's game," she says. "In other words, if you want to wear your team colors to show support that's one thing, but if you want to spend three hours talking about every play, it's entirely another."

Unfortunately, if managers and HR notice that "football Fridays" result in productivity taking a dive, the entire company is likely to lose the privilege.

"It only takes a couple of employees to take things to an extreme level, and then HR is forced to restrict the practice," she says.

Of course, if employees are interfacing with clients, it's a whole different story, says Claire Bissot, a senior professional in human resources at consultant CBIZ, where she's human resources business development manager.