Is There March Madness in Your Virtual Office Space?

MENLO PARK, CA—Nearly one-third of managers interviewed felt NCAA basketball tournament activities shouldn't be allowed in the workplace, according to an OfficeTeam survey. How does that play out in the virtual office world?

First, the overall view. The majority of bosses are willing to play ball: Fifty-seven percent said group events tied to the playoffs are OK in moderation, and another 11 percent welcome them. Only 20 percent of employees polled said they are distracted at work by the excitement surrounding major sports competitions.

"As long as they don't interfere with work, activities tied to sporting events can be great for morale," says OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "Watching a game together or holding friendly contests provides opportunities for employees to build team spirit."

Whether you’ve got March Madness in your virtual office or you work flex-time in a traditional office space—or you have some other alternative workplace strategy—here are five tips to help you stay focused on work during the game season:

1. Don't get benched. Before checking scores online or participating in game-related activities at work, review company policies so you know what's acceptable and what's not. If you are working from a virtual office, just check the scores during your break or normal lunch hour.

2. Take the occasional time out. If your firm allows it, enjoy quick breaks to discuss tournament highlights with coworkers, but don't let these talks sideline you from other responsibilities. If you're a die-hard fan, consider requesting time off to watch the playoffs. If you are a virtual office user, you can IM about it.

3. Set up a game plan. If you want to take a day off to enjoy a sporting event, ask your supervisor as far in advance as possible so workloads can be managed. There may be many others with the same idea. Or you can workshift from your virtual office with a commitment to getting the work done by the next morning.

4. Don't step out of bounds. Review your company's policy and find out ahead of time if your employer is OK with decorating your workspaces to support your favorite colleges. If you work from a virtual office, you have no restrictions!

5. Be a good sport. Regardless of team allegiances, show proper sportsmanship in the office. Leave your overly competitive streak at home. Then again, if you are in a virtual office you can jump, shout and dance all you want when your team wins the game.


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