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More people will watch March Madness while they pretend to WFH. Bosses probably shouldn’t fight it

Jess Lampi has her March Madness viewing plan all ready: She’s going to watch the college basketball tournament on her main TV and then bring out a second TV to be able to keep track of analytics and sports reporters’ tertiary comments. The annual spring tradition will unfold this year in the living room of her Houston home, where she’ll remain glued to the games, while doing her work as a tanker broker for an oil and gas company.

The 25-year-old is one of millions of Americans who will blend WFH and NCAA. A chunk of those, including Lampi, will be watching all the shooting, scoring, and dunking without the approval of her bosses, now many miles away from her work station, not roaming the office floor for employees discreetly cheering on their bracket picks.

March Madness viewing is expected to cost businesses an estimated $13.8 billion in productivity this year, according to the Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. That’s up from $13.3 billion in 2019. (In 2020, March Madness—what would’ve been the 82nd NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament—was called off due to COVID-19.)

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