Big Week for Silicon Valley Killjoys

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Guard Jeremie Simmons #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes once attended Von Steuben academy.

    It's that time of the year again.

    People across the country are fixated on NCAA basketball.  With that comes a technically illegal office pool and sneaking on to the Web and the company break room in order to catch the latest scores and highlights.

    Employers have good reason to worry that March Madness means marginal productivity from their staff.

    In fact, at least one study found that the time spent tracking the games during the first two days of the NCAA tournament alone could cost US employers nearly $2 billion.
     
    So, in an apparent effort to suck the last remaining nuggets of happiness out of the workday, software companies have developed tools to keep people from incessantly checking the web to see if that 12 seed upset happened like they hoped.

    Killjoys like Blue Coat Systems, headquartered in Sunnyvale, is one company that develops Internet filtering programs that block people from visiting any NCAA related web sites while at work.

    But not everyone agrees that staying glued to the games is a bad thing. The NCAA says it only takes about 20 minutes a day to keep up with the tournament once your bracket is filled out.  One poll  finds that 41 percent of office managers say allowing March Madness activities has a positive effect on morale.