According to an MSN survey, 86% of employees spend time at their office keeping track of "March Madness" - the NCAA college basketball championships followed by basketball fans every spring.

By now, you've probably heard that watching and betting on the tournament can hamper office productivity by killing precious bandwidth and distracting employees from their jobs, but does March Madness really deserve such a bad rap? In our infographic below, we set out to debunk that myth.

march madness work productivity

March Goodness

Contrary to popular belief, incorporating NCAA tournament bracket enthusiasm into the office workplace isn't all bad. Participating in March Madness can:

  • Strengthen camaraderie
  • Bolster competition
  • Foster collaborative skills
  • Boost office morale
  • Offer a welcome mental break

Give It a Shot

For all the naysayers, there are also many who recognize the benefits of March Madness in the workplace as a bonding tool. Is there March Madness work productivity increases?

"It can foster camaraderie and it fosters competition. Smart employers [know] it's inevitable, so they've tried to use it to their advantage and try to foster team-building within the workplace." - Rob Montgomery, professor of marketing at the University of Evansville's Schroeder Family School of Business Administration

"March Madness will not even register a blip on the nation's economic radar, and even the smallest company will survive the month without any impact on their bottom line." - John Challenger, CEO at Challenger, Gray & Christmas

"As long as they don't interfere with work, activities tied to sporting events can be great for morale; watching a game together or holding friendly contests provides opportunities for employees to build team spirit." - Robert Hosking, Executive Director at OfficeTeam

With Moderation, March Madness is OK

Research firm OfficeTeam conducted a survey of 1,013 senior executives and found that most bosses won't ban March Madness activities in the workplace. They even believe they're acceptable as long as they're practiced in moderation.

Here are the results of their March Madness work productivity survey:

How do you feel about March Madness activities, such as watching games or participating in pools that don't involve money in the workplace?

  • 11% - They're a welcome diversion
  • 57% - I don't encourage them, but they are OK in moderation
  • 32% - They shouldn't be allowed at work

Most Employees aren't Distracted by Sports & March Madness at Work

It's a common misconception that getting excited about sports in the office diverts employees' attention. In reality, the vast majority of survey respondents say that they are not distracted from their work by major sporting events.

Are you ever distracted from work by major sporting events?

  • 80% - No
  • 20% - Yes

How to Avoid Getting Penalized at Work for March Madness

Know your company policy. A Spherion survey found that 4 in 10 workers either didn't know or weren't positive if their employer had an official policy against office pools. Employees often get so swept up in the mania that they forget if they're abiding by company rules or not.

Prioritize. It's OK to check scores online and gather during breaks to discuss your brackets, but don't spend more time than necessary. Not only will you be sidelined, but you risk distracting your won coworkers from performing their jobs.

Take a breather if necessary. If you're a die-hard basketball fan and you're using a lot of work time to catch the games online, you may want to consider requesting a desired day off. Of course, try to ask your supervisor as far in advance as possible.

Don't be a poor sport. Regardless of how much you love your teams, don't be overly competitive in the office. Not only will you risk hurting coworker relationships, but upper management may perceive your bad sportsmanship as a negative quality.

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