March Madness costs the average employee 6 hours of productivity

True college basketball fans know that March Madness is almost upon us, and while estimates suggest companies could lose a maximum of $2.1 billion in “lost wages” during the tournament, newer findings from OfficeTeam show how much time is lost. The average employee “spends six hours on sports-related activities” during the course of the event, which lasts 15 workdays, or 25.5 minutes per day.

Independent research firms surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. office workers and more than 300 senior managers. Here are some of the findings that stood out.

Opinions split on sports in the office

While the research found that 46% of employees reported enjoying “sports events like March Madness” in the office (being able to pay attention to what’s going on, and having fun with colleagues), but 33% of say they’re “on the sidelines” (not having a huge interest in sports, but still being fine with what’s going on at work), and 21% reported not being fans and that they’d rather keep their attention on work.

The managers surveyed said that during major sporting events, 59% said sports comes up more in conversation, 55% report seeing “sports-themed office or workspace decorations,” and 48% have seen workers sporting “team jerseys or other fan attire.”

Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, commented on why that might not be a bad thing:

“While employers may worry about events like March Madness being a distraction in the office, allowing workers to enjoy sports-related activities for even a few minutes can be time well spent. Staff will appreciate the opportunity to bond with colleagues and return to their desks rejuvenated … Companies should trust employees to manage their time. Good workers still get their projects done, even if they take occasional breaks.”

The older you are, the less time you follow The Madness

OfficeTeam’s results also included an age and gender breakdown, showing that the older the employee, the less likely they are to get involved in March Madness. Workers ages 18 to 34 spend the most amount of time on “sports-related activities” during the tourney, more than any other age group during this time. Women were also less likely to take part and weren’t as likely as men to support sporting events like March Madness.