Triple-Double Trouble: March Madness Fouls U.S. Business Productivity

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U.S. productivity takes a dip each March, owing to the NCAA Basketball Championships.

If recent productivity trends hold true this week, March Madness — the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship — will cause a noticeable drop in employee effectiveness nationwide.

The annual decline in getting tasks done during the tournament results from employees in all industries following the popular tournament on their computers and mobile devices. Charles Clotfelter covered this seasonal timeout for the Harvard Business Review.

An estimated 2.5 million workers access online coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament annually. Further, they spend an average of 90 minutes a day watching championship-related content.

For those who are working in an office again, the resulting internet usage can slow online computer operations. In some cases, the clandestine viewings can overburden systems until they grind to a halt.

The estimates in lost productivity go as high as $1 billion.

This is especially true for universities whose teams are part of the tournament, especially when teams unexpectedly win and advance.

That said, however, work sluggishness each March is a relative phenomenon. Experts put the losses a no worse than those associated with the distracted days preceding the Thanksgiving holiday, for example.

Read more about March Madness in the Harvard Business Review.

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