Businesses face $1.3B in lost productivity during March Madness

Justin Jackson of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball in the second half against the Syracuse Orange during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.

Justin Jackson of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball in the second half against the Syracuse Orange during the NCAA Men’s Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Getty Images)


March Madness is set to consume the workplace, giving employees a reason to take an extra-long lunch, cancel an afternoon meeting and craft a perfect bracket with their cubemate.

Overall, 50% of business professionals plan to watch the NCAA College Basketball Tournament at some point this year, according to a new Office Pulse study of 784 people. Of those, over half (52%) said they’ll watch the games while at the office. 21% of fans plan to secretly watch the March Madness tournament at work, hiding it from their boss – a 133% lift from 2015. 12% of respondents plan to take a long lunch to catch some of the games.

Business professionals who plan to watch the tournament at work won’t just be catching a quick glimpse of the games. About 1 in 4 (24%) plan to spend 1-2 hours a day watching the March Madness tournament. That number rises to 27% among management, and spikes to 39% when looking just at middle managers.

Excluding the championship game, businesses will lose $1.3 billion during the course of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament due to lost productivity from employees watching the tournament and participating in office pools. Using an average hourly pay rate of $10.61 among 122 million employees, we averaged 4 hours of lost work during the tournament per employee who plans to watch at work to account for a total loss in productivity of


Other insights include:

  • 32% of business professionals see March Madness mania as an office morale boost
  • 34% plan to spend $10 on their office bracket; 30% plan to spend $20
  • 62% of male professionals plan to watch the NCAA Tournament while at work
  • Among all management levels planning to watch, 56% will watch during the workday
People around the office don’t plan to passively watch the games this year– many will be filling out a bracket in hopes for perfection. 39% of business professionals will take part in a March Madness bracket or pool. 20% will do an office bracket, while 5% will make a bracket but not watch the games. When asked why they’re participating in an office pool, 20% cited competitiveness.

One employee could already predict who will win the office bracket, saying that it’s “always one of the managers, because they’re all men who force the women in middle management to participate because we don’t watch and don’t care.” 3% of business professionals said they were peer pressured into participating in an office pool around the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA College Basketball Tournament starts next Tuesday, March 15, with day games starting March 17. The Championship Game is set for April 4.


About Office Pulse

Office Pulse by Captivate offers marketers timely analysis and insights from a proprietary panel of upscale professionals in the top markets. The Office Pulse panel of more than 8,000 influential consumers and business decision makers includes C-level executives, Millennials, middle management, small business owners, working women and working moms.

About Captivate

Known for its vast network of nearly 12,000 elevator displays located in 1,600 premier office buildings across North America, Captivate connects advertisers with 13 million unique monthly viewers through creative, research-driven and Nielsen-measured advertising and marketing programs. By engaging its viewers with timely news and actionable information that helps balance the personal and professional demands of the workday, Captivate provides advertisers with a highly desirable and difficult-to-reach audience of affluent and influential business professionals. Founded in 1997, Captivate is owned by Generation Partners. For more information, please visit