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March Madness Maddening For Bosses

March 15, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

March Madness Maddening For Bosses

Were you focused on the job on Thursday?  A whopping 86 percent of workers are caught up in the NCAA basketball tournament.  But that can really cut into the bottom line, which is why March Madness is enough to make the boss lose his wits.

Millions of people are at work, but their heads are in the game. 

"With the upcoming events, a lot of people are spending their break time, lunch times scoping out the Internet; they're checking out what's going on with the game situation-scores, who's doing what, when, what time-that sort of thing.  So instead of going out and enjoying this weather, a lot of individuals are sitting at their computers,” worker Janet Feikema said.

But it's more than just breaks.  According to a recent survey on the subject, more than half of those responding plan to spend at least one hour of their work day watching the basketball games and following scores, while six percent will take Thursday and Friday off.   And these days, you don't even have to be near a TV to watch the games.

"I think the internet makes watching games and staying up on them a lot easier to do at the office.  People will learn the short cut to switch between screens and I will watch some; I will lose some productivity," worker Andy Traub said.

Workers actually lose a lot of productively.  One study estimates companies lose $175 million over the first two days of the NCAA tournament.  That translates into employee pay for workers who aren't actually working.

"It absolutely could.   It absolutely could.  In their down time, instead of doing some functions between phone calls, they might be scoping out the internet checking out the score," Feikema said.

And even those workers on the go can find a way to stay connected to the games.

"The best thing with technology nowadays is your phone so I have an ESPN app on my phone, so I'll be keeping up with that.   With my job, the way I travel, I'm never close to a TV anyway, so I use it as much as I can," worker Ryan Renz said.

About 2.5 million unique visitors log on to check out March Madness coverage online during the work day, with each visitor spending about 90 minutes watching games.

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