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Fantasy Football & Work & Time Wasted
Sometimes A Fantasy Is All You Need

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2019-09-05
We all know that Fantasy Football is huge. And almost all of us have people in our lives on Monday telling us their tale of woe from their fantasy "battle" where all they needed was for Stefon Diggs to get 20 receiving yards in the late game but his 4th quarter fumble cost him the "win." Yes, it's insufferable. There's not many narratives you want to hear less at the water cooler than hearing about each hole on a round of golf, fantasy football sagas, stories of bad poker beats and chronicles of children’s soccer games.

Is This A Problem?

But what's the impact of Fantasy Football on society or as a business. Well, fantasy sports as a whole is a $7 billion a year industry. It's well covered here in this article. Money spent on fantasy sports is only part of the measure of it's impact; the time spent on it is just as significant.

According to Kimble Applications (all data sources are cited at bottom of this post), "Over a third (37 percent) of U.S. employees say they've participated in fantasy sports competitions during work hours." In a study cited by HR Bartender, "Almost 75 million Americans play fantasy football and, of those, 97 percent admit to spending work time on their teams."

If you're an executive, manager or IT professional, you should do the math. Take the number of people playing fantasy football in your office, multiply that times the average amount of hours at work they spend researching football and their teams (maybe about 3 hours) and multiply that times your hourly cost for that employee (salary/hr. but also benefits, etc.) and you have the amount that it's costing your business. Do that same math across the country with conservative numbers: 20 million employees playing at work * 3 hours on average of work time on fantasy football * their hourly wage (let's go low with $25) and times 17 weeks of the season and you have a U.S. work loss of $25.5 billion.

Of course, fantasy football is not the only time-waster in the workplace that managers should be concerned about. In a "Wasting Time at Work" survey, workers "22% waste approximately 2 hours daily, and 14% waste 3 or more hours each workday" and of that 48% of respondents waste time on "internet use", 33% on socializing with co-workers, 30% on conducting personal business, 19% on personal phone calls, 15% on long lunches. (If interested in further reading, here's a good demographic breakdown of time wasters.

Every business and IT department has to decide how much to monitor and avoid being Big Brother. Additionally, there are legal issues on how much you can monitor. Lots of employers block certain sites (I'm never going to criticize a company for blocking Facebook!). Some use monitoring software like Time Doctor, Teramind, ActivTrak or many others. In the late 90's my aunt increased proactivity at her County government agency by 2 hours a week simply by removing Minesweeper from all computers. (If you don't remember Minesweeper, ask your parents.)

Can Fantasy Football HELP an Office?

Read the articles below and several make the case that fantasy football among workers can be a positive for "team-building" (pardon the pun). I would agree with that, if it's a workplace-based league - definitely less so if a person is just playing in a league with his/her friends whom the do not work with.

Personally, I've played fantasy football for years and I'm tired of it. I caught myself rooting for the Bears to get sacked so Robbie Gould could kick a 50+ yard field goal attempt for more points. Adam Carolla correctly called the pastime "fairy tale football". It has nothing to do with the games. All of the NFL coaches and players are trying to win games, with no consideration to fantasy stats or even point spreads. That's why, with a gambler and also engineer's mentality, just betting on which team wins games is the purest calculation you can do, since it's the only wagering that actually aligns with the team's goals. Which is exactly why I do believe picking the winners with weighted points ("pick em" pools) or one-game lock of the week ("suicide pools") are the way to go for an office, but I digress.

Despite what I said last week in favor of telecommuting and downplaying the need for physically being in the same place with coworkers, I truly believe that team building is important. It is downright creepy to have nothing to say to people you spend 8 hours with, so let's break down the stiff work chatter any way we can, whether it's happy hour beers, a weekend fun run, holiday parties or a fantasy football league.

Bottom Line

Employees are generally going to waste time, let's face it. It's human nature. I used to waste time, then as soon as I became a contractor, I magically didn't. Contractors generally need to bill the time they spend working, so that does cut down on waste.

Anyway, if you're an employer, don't lose sleep on a little wasted time at work. If you get a solid 30 hours of productivity from your people, consider yourself lucky. (Remember this clip from Office Space, the "I'd say in a given week, I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work" part is at the 1:00 mark.)

Yes, be aware of time-wasters, monitor if you think it's out of hand. But otherwise, sit back. Or if the employees are in a league, make sure you get invited. And don't draft a quarterback in the first round. Thus endeth the sermon.

Further Reading

* Fantasy Football Could Cost $13B! Should You Care?
* America's Sports Fixation Takes Over the Workplace, Significantly Impacting Employee Culture and Productivity
* Fantasy Football Impacts Workplace Productivity - Friday Distraction
* The Best Employee Monitoring Software for 2019
* How to Successfully Monitor Employee Internet Usage
* Why & How Your Employees are Wasting Time at Work