Thursday, March 21, 2013
March madness has descended upon us once again. Brackets are being completed and water cooler talk turns to basketball. Research companies spend millions conducting surveys on how much productivity is loss in the workplace due the NCAA tournament. Some companies buy into the fears and direct IT departments to monitor and restrict network time and strictly enforce company policies.
Modis, an IT recruiting company conducted a survey regarding the burden put on IT professionals. The survey found that 42% of IT professionals responded that March Madness historically impacts their networks. 37% reported a network slow down and 34% reported that networks are essentially shut down during the tournament. Expecting increase in network burden, 65% of the survey’s respondents said that their IT departments took some action to slow or hinder streaming video. Jack Cullen, president of Modis said of March Madness time, “It’s an event that boosts office morale and builds camaraderie for many American workers, but it can put a significant burden on office networks, and the IT professionals responsible for maintaining them.”
Employees watching games is a burden to computer networks, but how does March Madness affect worker productivity? Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc. is one of the most popular research companies when it comes to tracking worker productivity during March Madness. The results of the Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc. survey for 2012 reported that 2.5 million workers spend 90 minutes a day watching basketball. With employers paying distracted workers some $175 million over the first full days of the tournament. Further distraction comes prior to the tournament while workers spend time completing brackets.
Statistics are showing hours and dollars loss, but what is not measured is how many workers who put in extra time or multi-task to make up for the loss time. With the prevalence of streaming video, workers are able to watch games from their desks while completing other tasks, either through company computers or personal devices.
Experts concede to the burden on networks, but also agree that March Madness builds worker morale and camaraderie. While some companies go out of their way to impose tighter restrictions, some embrace the time. To help ease network traffic, some companies install TVs in break rooms or have events and their own brackets or pools.
Whatever your position on this time known as March Madness, employers have to balance protecting their networks while at the same time ensuring productivity meets standards while not affecting worker morale. Good luck.