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Are March Madness Basketball Fans Less Productive at Work?

Joseph Patterson | March 1, 2018
Editor's note: Looking for the latest March Madness poll results? Check out our 2019 survey.

36 percent of March Madness watchers admit they tune in at their desks

College basketball fans love a good Cinderella story. Celebrating the underdog, witnessing a historic buzzer-beater, and relishing in unimaginable upsets is what the month of March is all about. For ballers and their supporters of every variety, the NCAA March Madness tourney means tuning in to as many high-scoring, high-stakes nail-biters as possible — even if that means watching while they work. For some employers, a workplace dream-team is made up of basketball fans who’ll gladly banter about the latest win over the water-cooler. They might even tune in, too. For others, constant basketball is just one more distraction. But, of course, we, the time tracking and management obsessed TSheets, wanted to know more about how basketball fans handle the temptation to watch March Madness from work, if they see it as a waste of their time, or if they find it a cheerful respite.  

Workplace madness

We surveyed 200 US employees to find out more about their March Madness viewing habits. And we discovered true diehard fans are overcome by the madness — nothing stops them from getting their fix. But that’s not the only thing we found. Of the employees who watch March Madness games, 37 percent say they always have it running in the background. And women are more likely to have it on in the background throughout the day than men. That said, men are statistically more likely to put in more screen time in total — watching at least four hours per day. Brackets are a big part of the March Madness fun, and those don’t get left at home either. Almost half (48 percent) of our March Madness fans say they spend at least 30 minutes working on their bracket while on the clock, and 27 percent say they spend at least an hour on their bracket while at work.When it comes to watching the games, many fans (23 percent) say they watch however they can. A quarter (26 percent) of employees say they watch the games in secret, while 20 percent watch with their coworkers, and 37 percent watch at their desks. Although many of our basketball fans (around 26 percent) say their boss has a positive view of March Madness and encourages engaging in or watching it at work, 14 percent say their employer is against watching or talking b-ball on company time. But that doesn’t mean employees who love March Madness don’t find a way to watch. To be sure, 20 percent say they head out to their cars to take in the action, while 30 percent watch while working from home. Even more surprising than the quarter who watch the tournament in meetings is the incredibly honest 1 in 5 who says they enjoy March Madness from the toilet!  

The cost of a good game

Whether March Madness basketball games make employees less productive seems to be up to the employee. One in 5 employees says they work fewer hours during March Madness, while more than 20 percent say they start work early to free up their schedule for the tournament. Over a quarter of employees say they look forward to coming to work, enjoy working more, and experience more camaraderie with their coworkers during the tournament. And the majority (about 70 percent) do not think March Madness has a negative impact on their productivity levels at work. But any lost wages aren’t the only funds that go missing due to a college basketball binge. Betting is another factor. One in 16 fans bets over $1,000 on the March Madness tournament, and nearly 12 percent bet over $500.  

Do you watch March Madness at work? What’s your secret to striking a work/hoops balance?

A little about Joseph Patterson

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