When March Madness breaks loose in the workplace, studies bemoaning the hours and wages lost as employees follow the bouncing basketballs begin popping up like short jumpers from the wing. But, while feeding the fears of declining productivity and wasted work time may make good copy, it speaks of a workforce long since passed.

The modern workplace is no longer the assembly line structure of the Henry Ford age, where one worker not at his or her post brings the entire system to a halt. Today’s working world is fluid, as employees exist in a collaborative environment, relying on each other as a whole rather than as individual components that can be plugged in or unplugged as needed. As such, allowing – and even encouraging – employees to participate in activities that bring them together in the workplace is a golden opportunity for a business to improve in all areas.

Bringing staff together

March Madness, the Super Bowl, World Series, and other quasi-national events, can provide the catalyst that increases employee interaction across all levels and areas of the corporate structure, no matter how large or small. Michael in the stockroom has the opportunity for a high five with Vanessa the VP of Sales as their tiny David of an alma mater nips a favored Goliath at the buzzer. The dishwashers can interact with the Executive chef in an atmosphere that fosters collaboration and exchanges of ideas while madly scrambling to rearrange a busted bracket.

Serendipity as a productivity tool

Employers who find ways to increase the opportunities for employees to network with one another throughout the course of the workday know that it benefits the organization, no matter how large or small, as a whole. Serendipitous encounters are less inhibiting than formal meetings, so the give-and-take, the sharing of a random idea, or the wondering out-loud has the opportunity to take root and flourish; something that may not happen when everyone is focused on an agenda.

As several successful companies have demonstrated, increasing opportunities for chance “collisions” among workers can spark ideas, generate solutions to problems, streamline processes, or simply improve employee morale. Instead of stopping the madness, they march right along.

Reference:

Herbert, John. “March Madness: The productivity myth and why small business owners should love office pools.” Washington Post. March  13, 2013

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