A consulting firm issued a press release yesterday claiming that American businesses will lose $800 million in productivity over the next couple of weeks because their employees spend so much time in Super Bowl-related discussions. Here's part of their claim:
Assuming employees, for example, spend 10 minutes a day talking about the game, making bets, surfing the Internet or shopping for a new television, their bosses will lose some $162 million per day. In a five-day workweek, that adds up to $810 million, based on average earnings and expected viewership.The firm's conclusions were reported by many media outlets across the country, virtually without comment or perspective.
But they are wrong.
That estimate is based on the faulty assumption that employees aren't already spending 10 minutes a day talking about all sorts of things. If it's not the Super Bowl, it's something else. The truth is that the American workplace is, and always has been, a place of social interaction, and yet our national productivity seems to be doing just fine. As long as we get the job done, why should it matter what we're talking to each other about, or e-mailing, or whatever?