The Business Side of March Madness (NBC33 VIDEO)

By Eric DeFreeuw

March 21, 2013 Updated Mar 21, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.nbc33.com) – With the NCAA Tournament getting into high gear Thursday, employees around the city seem to be coming down with the "March Madness Flu," the annual bug that requires many to miss work or take extended lunch breaks. So it should be no surprise this could have an impact on workplace productivity.

Every year the firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas publishes an estimate on the amount of revenue lost from workers across the country while they watch the madness unfold. And this year that number is approaching $134 million. This number is calculated based on the average US hourly wage ($22.38) times the expected audience of 3 million viewers times the two days of viewing.

And wouldn’t you know it, Fort Wayne does not appear to be bucking that trend at all. When asked if he was supposed to be working this afternoon instead of watching games at Buckets Sports Pub and Grub, Joseph Walburn said, “as a CPA I really shouldn't be here, but you know what you've gotta have some fun. It's Thursday, it's March, it's cold outside. And you can't beat the basketball."

Those sentiments were echoed by fellow tournament enthusiast Ryan Hirschy. When asked whether he has a hoops tradition, he replied “absolutely! Every Thursday, the first Thursday of the tournament we've been meeting for the last 5 or 6 years and doing this. So it's a lot of fun. Something I look forward to."

But not everything is so gloomy when it comes to mixing the hardwood with the workplace. Another survey done by OfficeTeam asked managers about what they see in their offices in March, and almost twice as many saw their employees morale improve. The survey noted an increase in office bonding and team-building while following the games.

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