March Madness is an exciting time for sports enthusiasts, however it can be a manager’s worst nightmare. While March Madness can bring enjoyment and camaraderie in to the office, it can also cause lost productivity and slow networks.“Streaming video alone accounts for a staggering percentage of Web traffic,” said Matt Gilley, an attorney from Ford Harrison. “If your employees are watching streaming video at their desk—such as their favorite team’s first-round matchup—they are going to be eating up a sizable portion of your bandwidth.”
So what can you do? While there are numerous ways to approach March Madness in the workplace, from hoping that your employees respect the rules and policies that you (possibly) have in place, to standing over each employee and watching their every move, there is no surefire way to keep everyone engaged in their work duties during the tournament. Many employers feel that following March Madness during the workday adds some excitement to the workplace and are willing to trade some level of lost productivity for the higher morale and excitement that infuse the office during that time.
Here are some ways to help manage employee’s desire to keep up on the tournament without losing out (too much) on productivity.
- Limit access – if your company has a network security solution, such as a SonicWall or OpenDNS, you can set filters for specific content so your network performance is not compromised by a huge volume of basketball-related streaming. These network tools give you the ability to block web addresses and to limit streaming. However, depending on how motivated your employees are to catch their games, they will most likely find a way around these tools such as simply watching the games on their mobile devices, that are likely tapped into your network wirelessly.
- Allow employees to have more flexible work schedules – depending on the nature of your business this may or may not be an option. If you work in an environment that allows for it, you can provide your employees the option to come in an hour earlier or later and/or watch for an hour during a break time of their choice. This allows for your employees to still get all of their work completed, just on their own schedule. In order for this option to be successful, communication is key. Managers should have an understanding of everyone’s schedules and everyone should be aware of core business hours (if you have them), including any important meetings that employees need to be physically present for.
- Designated times and locations – if your office has a break room, a kitchen, or a vacant conference room consider placing a TV or large monitor that has the ability to stream live games. This allows employees to catch games on their breaks and cuts down live streaming at their desks. Bonus points, you can even make a team building event out of it by having a March Madness-centered (party/pizza lunch/potluck/happy hour) for one or two big games.