March Madness might have place in office despite distractions

Filed under: Daily News |

March Madness is just around the corner and office employees are sure to have basketball on the brain.

One in five employees will be distracted from their work duties in the coming weeks as March Madness kicks off this Sunday. But, watching college hoops or planning work place activities could be a morale booster, some office managers say.

Bosses and office employees were interviewed about the buzz of the annual college basketball tournament. OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of administrative professionals, asked more than 1,000 senior executives how they felt about tournament talk and office activities related to the games.

Managers were asked, “How do you feel about March Madness activities, such as watching games or participating in pools that don’t involve money, in the workplace?”

About one third of managers said they didn’t want any NCAA basketball tournament activities in the workplace, that they shouldn’t be allowed. But, 57 percent said no harm, no foul. Events tied to the playoffs are OK in moderation. And 11 percent of the managers said they welcome the basketball hoopla and related activities.

“As long as they don’t interfere with work, activities tied to sporting events can be great for morale,” said Robert Hosking, OfficeTeam executive director. “Watching a game together or holding friendly contests provides opportunities for employees to build team spirit.”

In a separate OfficeTeam survey, 41 percent of managers felt the college basketball playoffs have a positive effect on employee morale and 56 percent also said these activities don’t impact productivity. And 22 percent of the managers said the festivities actually increase workers’ output.

The surveys were developed by OfficeTeam and conducted by an independent research firm. More than 1,000 senior executives responded from companies with 20 or more employees. And, more than 430 office employees, 18 years and older responded.

Those who owned up to being distracted by college hoops and the 67 games from March 13 to April 2 are men ages 18 to 34. Women – more than 95 percent – said they won’t be thinking at all about basketball while at work. Only 6 percent owned up to being distracted.

Hosking said basketball enthusiasts ought to find out if there is an office policy about checking sports scores on company computers or company time. They also should ask if it’s OK to decorate their desk and office area with their favorite team colors before they go all out. And, die-hard fans should request time off and watch the games away from the office, he said.

“The NCAA basketball tournament is a common topic of conversation at the office as employees may share college allegiances,” Hosking said. “As long as everyone remains a good sport, rooting for a favorite team should not affect morale or productivity.”