Don’t Let March Bring Madness into Your Workplace

Big events like the upcoming college basketball finals create excitement and draw a lot of attention—away from work. A recent survey by RetailMeNot shows just how much workplace productivity could go down. Respondents surveyed said:

  • Almost three in 10 plan to watch March Madness games at work;
  • 39 percent plan to watch from their work computers;
  • 41 percent would like to stream games from their smartphones at work, and 38 percent said they would use their tablets; and
  • Two in 10 men surveyed would go to a bar at lunch during the workday to watch the games.

On top of the time spent watching the games, employees spend time arranging the office betting pools, researching teams, and organizing viewing parties.

There may also be IT issues to consider. Employees streaming games live on their work computers or on smartphones and tablets connected to the company’s network may drain bandwidth.

Office betting pools raise the issue of gambling in the workplace. Such pools may be regulated by state gaming laws. While betting pools usually amount to no more than harmless fun, and the risk of prosecution is low, employers should be aware of any restrictions as they decide whether to prohibit, ignore, or sponsor such pools.

If you haven’t thought about this yet, you may want to. The cost to productivity can be significant, and if there is a significant slowdown to your network, even those employees not watching the games will be less productive. If you wish to prohibit employees streaming games at work and workplace gambling, be sure to communicate that in a policy or some other manner. Should you decide to allow office betting pools, it is likely best to keep the stakes low and ensure that neither the employer nor any individual (other than the winners, of course) profits from them.