March MadnessMarch Madness is officially upon us.  I have to say, being a sports fan, it comes at the right time since the NFL season has been over for a few months and the MLB season is still a month away from opening day. Your bracket may be ready, but what if you weren’t allowed to follow the daily action?

Last year, it was estimated that March Madness at the workplace cost nearly $2 billion dollars in lost worker productivity during the 2 weeks of the tournament. I won’t try and dissect the number, but with the expansion of broadband and the availability of all the games streaming online, it seems pretty accurate.  Think about all the bandwidth being used in an office of 300 people when half of the office is streaming scores, audio and games throughout the day. That bandwidth not only costs money, but could cause performance issues for your peers.

If you work in an office, there really is no escaping the hoopla of March Madness (oh, I see what you did there!)  Am I guilty of spending a few minutes during March Madness to check out box scores? Yes, I am. I work in IT, so the past few years, I have had first hand experience at watching the bandwidth spike unusually during the day. So far, we have not had any complaints nor any executive action to ban that activity.

In this economy and stressful times, I think March Madness is a great time for camaraderie with fellow employees and to instill a little friendly competition with interoffice pools.  I don’t really seem any harm in it…to a point.  I would imagine that the estimated productivity numbers will only continue to increase as technology advances. Gone are the days of manually filling out brackets and hand tabulating points. It’s all done online and for free.

I wonder if employers would embrace March Madness more, that maybe productivity wouldn’t take as much as a hit.  Usually when employees are happy and morale is high, quality of work and productivity increases. What if they rolled a TV in the lunchroom and played the games? Would that help curb the bandwidth costs? What if the company sponsors some sort of March Madness event?  I understand that not everyone would be on board, but I still think it would be an interesting concept.

Do you have a bracket? Does your workplace enforce any policies to discourage or encourage March Madness participation?

Stupidly Yours,

Matt

photo courtesy of iDream_in_Infrared