This week, St. Patrick’s Day and the official start of Spring will be overshadowed by one of America’s most beloved annual events: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. While most of the early round tournament games are broadcast during the middle of the workday, little seems to stand between employees and their brackets.
Last year, NCAA basketball fans watched 377 minutes of tournament games on average, up from 300 minutes in 2013. Nearly 10 million viewers tuned in to 70 million live game video streams, up 42% from 2013. In anticipation of the Big Dance, InterCall was curious to see how the lure of midday basketball impacts employee behavior in the office, particularly on conference calls.
After surveying almost 500 full-time U.S. employees, we gleaned insight into just how far workers go to catch their favorite teams fight for the NCAA championship title.
Watching games during, and in lieu of, conference calls
As we suspected, plenty of employees get their March Madness fix during the workday. Fifty-six (56) percent of survey respondents claim to stream tournament games at work. More surprising, however, was how quick employees are to move standing meetings in order to watch the tournament live. Forty three (43) percent of survey respondents said they’re likely to reschedule a recurring conference call to catch a game.
Despite employees’ inclination to rearrange their schedules around NCAA basketball, some calls inevitably coincide with game time. Regardless, 42 percent of workers admit to watching tournament games during conference calls. Of this group, 11 percent mute themselves during the meeting to hide the distraction, and 31 percent mute the game sound instead.
March Madness breeds in-office bonding, out-of-office field trips
Though a number of employees probably stream tournament games from the privacy of their own desk and mobile device of choice, March Madness has a knack for bringing workers together. Sixty two (62) percent of survey respondents say that colleagues gather in common spaces at their office (e.g. kitchens, break rooms, conference rooms, etc.) to watch the games.
Not all companies may have such lenient game watch attitudes, forcing workers to find creative spots to stay on top of tournament action. We asked survey respondents the strangest place they’ve gone to watch March Madness games and (much like in our mobile conferencing study) found that bathrooms are only one of many bizarre alternatives:
Where is the strangest place you’ve ever gone to watch an NCAA tournament game during the workday?
- The bathroom
- In a courthouse, on an iPad
- Supply closet
- Public library
- Barber shop
- Boiler room
- Strip club
- Chuck E. Cheese’s
- Pawn shop
Men, thirty-somethings, most likely to follow the tournament at work
Digging into survey respondent demographics, it’s clear that gender and age correlate with employees’ likelihood of following March Madness at work and during meetings.
Confirming gendered sports stereotypes, 61 percent of male employees stream tournament games at work, compared to 42 percent of female workers. Although when it comes to rescheduling meetings around game times, men and women aren’t that different. Forty six (46) percent of male and 38 percent of female workers admit to shifting conference calls to watch the tournament.
One might assume that younger, fresh out of college employees would be first to succumb to the workday tournament frenzy. Our data paints a different picture.
With the exception of the 50 and up crowd, the older an employee, the more likely they are to reschedule a conference call around a tournament game:
- 39% of 18-29 year olds
- 47% of 30-39 year olds
- 50% of 40-49 year olds
- 32% of 50-65 year olds
Thirty to 39 year olds are also more likely than any other age group to stream tournament games at work (60 percent) and during conference calls (47 percent).
Overall, we confirmed that March Madness does a lot more than ignite trash talk between colleagues from rival alma maters. For better or worse, live streaming and the ease of accessing games on any device means employees no longer have to choose between conference calls and tournament games—and, as we’ve seen, they don’t.
Have you ever tuned in to a March Madness game mid-conference call? Where’s the strangest place you’ve watched a game during the workday?