March Madness NCAA tournaments draw basketball fans from workplace to 'work-in'

By Kaitlin Shawgo | The Grand Rapids Press
March 18, 2010, 7:36PM

Rex Larsen | The Grand Rapids Press
A.J. Penninga, left, Val Moody, Andy Guy, and Rob McCarty do office work on their computers, while watching college basketball playoffs and drinking beer. They were participating in “work-in”, a charity event Thursday at Peppino's Sports Lounge on Ionia SW for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. “This is my most successful multi-tasking of the year” joked Guy, of Wondergem Consulting.

GRAND RAPIDS — For many March Madness fans, getting work done during the first couple days of the NCAA tournament may seem impossible.
That was the idea behind Thursday's “work-in” at Peppino's Sports Lounge Downtown, 130 Ionia Ave. SE. Hoops fans came solo or in company groups, paying a fee to reserve a table for a few hours or the whole afternoon.
They could watch the games, eat and drink — and try to get a little work done.
“I don't know how much work is truly going to get done,” joked Kurt Suidinski, the eatery's owner.
Proceeds from the event, about $4,000, went to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, a nearly year-old organization that will use the money to repair the city's public basketball courts, said Steve Faber, its executive director.
Peppino's “work-in” took advantage of the frenzy that often accompanies tourney time. It also offered a bit of balm to the talk of decreased workplace productivity in the face of so much basketball.

Rex Larsen | The Grand Rapids Press
Chad Jansen, right, and Dustin Turner of Adtegrity.com, an online advertising company in Cascade, watch college basketball and work on their laptops

It's not unusual for people to play hooky from work to watch the first two days of the bracketed games. Others go to work, but keep up with the court action via the office pool, checking scores on TV and online, even kicking back to watch the games in the office.
This year, all the hoops hype is expected to cost companies $1.8 billion in workplace productivity, according to consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas' annual estimate.

March Madness “Work-In”
• Money raised: About $4,000
• Number of people involved: About 150
• Number of games played on Thursday: 16
• Number of flat screen TVs at Peppino's: 50

In a recent survey conducted by Robert Half International staffing firm Office Team, 56 percent of 1,000 U.S. managers didn't think March Madness has an effect on workplace productivity.
At Thursday's “work-in,” some groups appeared to be intent on doing work while others had closed their laptops and were watching the game.
One booth was filled with employees from local communications company The Image Shoppe — most of whom had been at Peppino's all afternoon. Their laptops were out, and they had been getting work done as things came up.
Rob McCarty said he hasn't taken off work for the first day of March Madness in seven or eight years – but he hoped the event would continue.
“You need to sometimes take some time out,” he said.

Friends Edit: Event Sponsors were WBBL, Peppinos, Friends of GR Parks,
The Image Shoppe, and Wondergem Consulting

Special Thanks to Local First, MadCap Coffee, Greenwell and Bistro Bella
Vita for supporting the event with great giveaways for attendees.

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