RSS
How March Madness distracts workers: By the numbers
Companies could lose up to $175 million in the first two days of the NCAA tournament, as on-the-clock employees obsessively check for game updates
 
Roughly 50 million Americans are expected to participate in office pools for this year's NCAA men's college basketball tournament.
Roughly 50 million Americans are expected to participate in office pools for this year's NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Ian Lishman/Juice Images/Corbis

"Cyberloafing" — workers' profit-sapping habit of surfing the web instead of being productive at the office — will be hitting critical levels as March Madness gets into full swing this week. How much time will American workers spend updating tournament brackets, tracking office pools, checking scores, and watching games? Here, a numerical breakdown of just how distracting — and costly — March Madness is to gainfully employed college basketball fans:

86
Percentage of employees who will devote at least part of their workday to updating brackets, checking scores, and following games during this year's men's college basketball tournament, according to a MSN survey

81
Percentage of employees who devoted at least part of their workday to following the tournament last year

56
Percentage of employees who plan to dedicate at least one hour of their workday to March Madness. "The worst exploitation-pod period" will be Thursday and Friday, says Chris Dufresne at the Los Angeles Times, when most of the first-round "bracket-busting" takes place midday, during office hours.

2.5 million
Workers who will spend at least 90 minutes a day watching the tournament

11
Percentage of workers who admit to spending at least five hours of their workday following March Madness

14
Percentage of college basketball fans who admit to having called in sick during March Madness, according to a Yahoo survey

6
Percentage of employees who take the first two days of the tournament off from work

40
Percentage of employees who try to access March Madness information on their work computers

$175 million
Amount of money employers will pay workers for time they spent distracted by March Madness during the first two days of the tournament alone, using the estimated average wage of $23.29 per hour

One-third to two-fifths
Fraction of employers who block websites pertaining to the NCAA tournament, labor lawyer Lonnie Giamela tells the Los Angeles Times

10.3 million
Hours of streaming video related to the tournament watched by workers last year

50 million
Americans who participate in office pools

31

Percentage of people who enter at least two betting pools

58
Percentage of people who enter at least one betting pool

57
Percentage of employers who condone or encourage March Madness distraction, according to a study by staffing services company OfficeTeam

41
Percentage of employers who think the tournament "had a positive impact on the workplace"

Sources: College Recruiters, LA Times, MSN, MSNBC, My Fox Chicago

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week