INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - March Madness often means a change in work habits, as the NCAA Tournament is under way, and visions of basketball glory fill the minds of usually level-headed workers.
It's the time of year, when the American dream merges with hoops dreams. And the accompanying drop in productivity in the American work force is estimated to cost employers tens, even hundreds of millions of dollars.
Matt Stoner was at MacNivens on Massachusetts at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday. He left work for lunch to watch basketball there.
"They told me to take my time," he said. "So I think I'm OK right now. I know they're watching back at the office too. I think I'll be all right."
"It's something you really can't combat," said Cheryl Reed, director of communications at Indianapolis-based Angie's List.
The company doesn't fight the tournament season, Reed said, even if it means a drop in production.
"They'll make it up in other ways. We've got a system, they've got goals, It's not going to be a problem," she said.
It's estimated 30 million Americans fill out a bracket, trying to predict the winner of the NCAA tournament.
March Madness is so intense, outplacement firm Challenger Gray estimates American employers lose about $175 million in productivity the first two days of the tournament alone.
Thursday, Mike Schotts was watching the tournament at The Pub on Georgia Street.
"It's great for work," he said. "We're actually networking today. We're networking. It just happens the game is on."
Jason Wrenn was watching Thursday at The Pub, too.
"You know it's a little give and take," he said. "But if you have those days to call off, it's good. I substitute so I didn't have to. I didn't answer the call today,"
Instead he's watching March Madness.
Challenger Gray estimates more than 2.5 million Americans will watch the tournament online, many of them streaming it at work. A Harris Interactive poll found 47 percent of workers hide their mobile device or go to the restroom to catch up on the game. The poll even found that 9 percent admitted they pretend to tie their shoes to see the score.
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