Does Mobile Access to March Madness Bring Workforce Productivity to new Lows?

Unless you are a sports-themed restaurant/bar, today begins the much-hyped – and widely predicted – workforce productivity decrease due to the NCAA tournament. For years, media have highlighted the billions of dollars potentially lost as a result of unproductive wages due to the distractions of March Madness, particularly amongst office workers parked in front of a computer all day. Live, streaming internet feeds and “Boss Buttons” enable workers to get real time access to games, scores and their bracket status.

According to a study by Chicago consulting firm, Challenger, Gray and Christmas, March Madness cost employers up to $1.8 billion because of lost productivity in the first week alone.

But many other industries, with staff not tethered to a desktop, have not felt impact of the annual tournament. The question is with the massive adoption of smartphones and tablets, is that changing? In years past, workers may have taped their games or caught highlights after work.

In an article earlier this week by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) they point out:

“With CBS Sports expanding its reach in 2011 by providing free mobile apps, Challenger estimates that streaming will increase at least 20 percent to about 14 million total hours. Assuming similar viewership trends will occur in 2011, roughly 10.5 million hours of streaming video and audio will be consumed during the first four days of the tournament, with about 80 percent of that (8.4 million hours) occurring on Thursday, March 17, and Friday, March 18, 2011.”

Does the access to live, free streaming games on their iPhone or Android device pose a new temptation to these workers? Could mobile devices present a new challenge for managers tracking their productivity in manufacturing or retail markets? Undoubtedly we’ll hear more after the tournament…

And for those of you bracketologists and die-hard fans – Go SU Orange!

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