March Madness, Productivity and Viewing Habits

By Chris Hengst

In the weeks before Selection Sunday (March 11th), it’s of some amusement to me to consider what March Madness does to the American populace.

Yesterday, I listed a few of my favorite fan stereotypes that appear annually when Bracketology consumes us all.

Tonight, it’s about the first round — I’m not counting the play-in games because frankly, I don’t like change — and the extent to which hoops fans will go to put the national work force in jeopardy.

Challenger, Gray and Christmas releases a study each year detailing the presumed amount employers lose during March Madness. In 2010, the company predicted $1.8 billion in losses. In 2011, they were much less gaudy, claiming the normal influx of statistics used in their formula decreased but still pegged the mark in the hundreds of millions.

If you’re a college basketball fan, chances are you’re going to negatively impact your company’s bottom line in mid-March.

It may not be much, you might not have enough responsibility for it to matter or you may run the company already and make an executive decision to commit to “team-building” during the early games. Those seminars are best appreciated at the local establishments serving draft specials and hot wings.

But no matter your place in the hierarchy, you’re going to find a way to track games online and gleefully use the Boss Button.

Nervously peering out the window or around the cubicle wall? Those are rookie maneuvers.

The March Madness veteran decides weeks in advance that his or her office needs reshuffling and notifies his superiors of this necessity. If approved, then the computer screen immediately faces away from the door to save yourself the embarrassment of someone walking in. If denied, the desk is still shifted slightly but with the intention of a flat out coup (away from the door or window) on the first full day of games before your employer asks politely that you move it back. Go big or go home, we’re not threatening the U.S. economy with people trying to avoid work at half-speed.

What of the lunch break?

This is the most important mid-day meal you’ll eat all year. That unplanned one your boss requests, perhaps signaling a promotion? Again, priorities if we’re really committing to the March Madness cause.

If you’re allowed half an hour, best to cash in with a sick day early in the morning. There’s just not enough time to enjoy the festivities and rest assured, at the 28th minute of your break, some team will call timeout down three with seconds remaining.

Sixty minutes provides a solid intake of non-dietary foods and possible alcohol consumption. Engage in the latter at your own peril but if you’re planning to watch games all afternoon while sending fake emails when you return, what’s the harm in a buzz?

The true NCAA Tournament junkie takes a vacation day and never leaves the couch. He’s also not harming the work force and while smart, not my concern.

Other options for the full-day boss avoidance:

Doctor’s note? Overplayed, you require solid acting skills or an ailment that’s always bothering you. Maybe that bum knee flairs up in the spring.

Sick child? It requires a brass set to pin March Madness viewing habits on your kids but this is a guaranteed winner. No kids yet? Tell your boss you just found out you have one. Craft the back story sipping craft beer.

Car trouble? If you’re utilizing this route, I hope you’re ready to take a hammer to the alternator.

Whatever the inclination or excuse, finding an online stream or a television is the most productive thing you can do in mid-March.

The U.S. work force supports you fully.

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