March Madness productivity loss? It’s a slam dunk, poll says


March Madness kicks off Tuesday, and productivity will plummet as nearly a third of workers will spend as much as three hours per day watching the college basketball tournament, a survey released Wednesday found.

In its annual poll, the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. estimates that the almost monthlong tournament will cost American companies $134 million in “lost wages” as an estimated 3 million workers spend between one to three hours watching hoops.

Employers: Brace yourself for slower Internet speeds as online streaming is expected to zap networks’ bandwidth, the firm warns.


“March Madness will definitely have an impact on the flow of work, particularly during the first week of the tournament,” John A. Challenger, chief executive at the firm, said in a statement. “Starting the day after selection Sunday, people will be organizing office pools, researching teams and planning viewing parties.”

The survey also found that 7% of those polled said they plan to take time off work to watch the tournament.

As online streaming has made it possible to watch sporting events practically anywhere -- phones, tablets and desktops -- many workplaces have told employees to get back to work.

Last summer, for instance, Los Angeles City Hall employees streaming the Olympic Games were instructed not to watch from their work computers for fear of a computer meltdown.


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