Every year around this time, millions of hard-workin’ folks around the world must deal with a very serious dilemma: how do you follow March Madness at work without getting fired?
Obviously, just forgetting about the NCAA Tournament is not an option. This is the most exciting sports tournament on earth we’re talking about here. You can’t just put that sort of thing out of your mind.
Also not options: taking sick days, or recording all the action on your DVR. Your boss will see right through the former, and no matter how much you avoid making any human contact, the d-bag running your office pool will find a way to ruin the latter.
Thus, your only option is to find a way to follow March Madness at work that won’t result in your (rightful) termination. And that’s where today’s list comes in. We’ve got some useful tips to help you keep up with the upsets, buzzer-beaters, and cinderellas without pissing off your boss.
And yes, the tips apply to you students, too. Though frankly there’s much less at stake for you. If you get caught, you get suspended from school and grounded, but somebody’s still paying the rent and buying groceries. Really, it’s a pretty sweet gig.
But I digress. Let’s get on with the show…
Not everyone will be able to use this tactic. And to be honest, in my opinion, it's kind of cheating. But we still have to mention it: one of the best ways to follow March Madness "at work" is to take a long lunch at your local neighborhood chain restaurant, order yourself some fiesta shrimp poppers, and watch the games on one of those TVs they have hanging all over the place so people don't have to talk to each other.
Hell, games only last about an hour and 45 minutes. If you time it right you can watch the second half of one game and all of another.
Alternatively, if you have one of those fancy jobs where you deal with "clients," you could always arrange to meet some of them for lunch. Schmoozing with them is legitimate business. Your boss will actually love this. He'll call you a go-getter.
Of course, if you work one of those lame jobs where you can't take long lunches...never min.
9. Long Lunches
The best way to follow all the March Madness action at work is to stream the games live over the internet. You can do this on your phone or tablet by downloading the March Madness Live app, or on your computer through the NCAA's March Madness website as seen in this screen shot. All 67 games will be available to stream on the web. However, only the ones on CBS will be free. If you want to stream games airing on TNT, TBS, or TruTV, you'll have to enter your cable subscription info. (Pro tip: or your parents' cable subscription info.)
Of course, while this will give you the ultimate March Madness experience, this option does not come without difficulties...
8. Online Streaming
If you have your very own private office, then watching the games on your phone or computer won't pose much of a problem. However, if you do you're not that important, you'll encounter a major problem: everyone will be able to see that you're watching basketball instead of working.
Solution: privacy filters, like these from 3M. They make it difficult or impossible to see what's on your computer screen unless you're sitting right in front of it. Thus, you will have an extra few seconds to turn the game off should your boss pop unexpectedly into the room.
And speaking of turning the game off...
7. Privacy Filters
The best way to instantly hide what you're doing on the computer? Virtual desktops.
Basically, you can create more than one desktop for your computer. The idea is that you one program (say your internet browser) and another program (say your word processor) in another. Thus, instead of constantly having to minimize and maximize windows to move between applications, you just hit a button or swipe with your fingers and move between desktops.
Of course, this is also very handy for instantly hiding something you are doing. Rather than finding that little dot and closing a window when your manager comes around, all you have to do is hit a button and, presto, instead of watching basketball you're working hard on those quarterly reports.
If you have a Mac, then you probably know all about virtual desktops because they're a main feature of the most recent Mac OS. It even allows you to go into system preferences and customize how you move between desktops. (On my laptop it's just a single four-finger swipe across the trackpad.) However, if you have Windows, you'll have to install a special program like VirtuaWin or Dexpot.
6. Virtual Desktops
Another problem you'll encounter if you elect to stream NCAA Tournament games on your computer or phone pertains to audio. You can't just have the audio playing because it will give you away. And unless you work for one of those cool new media companies that lets you bring your dog to work and has a rock wall in the "employee wellness center," you can't sit around with regular earbuds in your ears all day. However, without audio, it's going to be very difficult to follow the game, because you can't literally keep your eyes on the screen at all times.
Solution? Wireless bluetooth headsets. Everyone uses them to make calls, and it's not unusual to see people with those things sticking out of their ears all day. Just stream the game on your phone (especially if your company blocks streaming sites on their network) or sync your headset to your computer, and no one will suspect a thing.
In fact, they might even leave you alone because they think you're on a call.
5. Wireless Headphones
If you have a group of co-workers that you really, truly trust, then set up a network of informants to watch out for bosses and sycophants.
This can work in a number of ways. One would be to set up lookout shifts. One person keeps watch while the others watch the game on computers or in the break room. Maybe they even go the extra mile and distract the boss with meetings. Then you switch, and somebody else takes a lookout shift.
Alternatively, you could have a networks of colleagues keeping watch for one person who monitors all the action and sends out alerts for big games. Either way, there's safety in numbers.
4. Network of Informants
If you absolutely cannot watch the games, use your phone to follow March Madness on Twitter.
Now, I realize if you're old you might wonder, how the hell do I follow basketball games on Twitter? And the answer is, you have to follow the right people. If you follow the right people—writers, bloggers, websites, teams, and so on—you can basically get realtime updates AND commentary on everything that's happening.
Here are a few suggestions:
I've already mentioned the NCAA's March Madness Live app. That's best if you want to actually watch games and get extremely detailed game states.
However, your regular sports apps can do a great job too. My favorite is The Score. The interface is fantastic, and you can set up push notifications for almost anything. Thus, if for some reason you actually have to get some work done, you can focus on that and just let your phone alert you whenever something cool has happened or is about to happen.
This is the boldest option for following March Madness at work, but it's also got the highest payoff.
Every year, all the fancy financial publications that rich people reach publish articles about how billions of dollars are lost as office productivity slows down during March Madness. And every year companies try to crack down to no avail.
The real solution? Let them eat cake! And by eat cake, I mean watch basketball.
While it's not good to just completely forget work altogether, if companies actually promoted March Madness in the office—by organizing official company bracket contests, setting up TVs in the break rooms, and throwing "March Madness watch parties," for example—productivity wouldn't fall off as dramatically as it does. People would probably work hard most of the day because they know they'll get a fun, company-sanctioned break.
More importantly, employee morale would skyrocket. And there are tons of academic studies that, in the grand scheme of things, nothing enhances productivity better than high morale.
So go ahead, show this post to your boss. (Or this article. Or this one.) Convince him or her to celebrate March Madness openly so you don't have to sneak around.
1. Convince Your Boss It's Good for Workplace Morale
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