The tip-off to a productivity drop

Kai Ryssdal Mar 15, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: This final note . . .

He shoots, he scores. . . .

March Madness kicked off for real today. And the craziness extends to the workplace as it does every year. There’s the office betting pool on the NCAA basketball tournament. And of course, the Internet is right there, tempting you to stream the game.

Distractions abound, and according to John Challenger from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, it does some damage to the bottom line.

JOHN CHALLENGER: We expect in the next 2 1/2 weeks that American employers will lose up to $1.2 billion in lost productivity as workers spend their time thinking about the NCAA other than their work.

We thought we’d test the theory today. We found Bill Jones down at the Grand Avenue Sports Bar down the street from us. Complete with all of its flat screen TVs.

BILL JONES: You can tell from all the people here in suits and ties that the productivity is probably at an all-time high in downtown L.A.

Bill’s friend Terry, who wouldn’t give us her last name — I dunno, maybe she’s playing hooky, said she plans to spend a nice little chunk of her day right there.

TERRY: Oh, probably about two-three hours today and two-three hours tomorrow, and then at work, you know, you hit the refresh button the whole time on the ESPN site, so . . . .

So John Challenger clearly has a point. But he says employers should work with the tournament, not against it. He’s got his own office pool working. The winner gets a $100 gift certificate.

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