Apparently so many Los Angeles City Hall employees are streaming coverage of the Summer Olympics on their office computers that the city's chief technology officer warned them that it was interfering with the entire city cyber system. He sent an email beseeching them to quit watching the Olympics online.
Although this will no doubt feed existing suspicions that city workers are lazy, unproductive and living large off of taxpayer largesse, the fact is they're not the only ones watching. A reported 12% of Americans said in a recent survey that they planned to check in on the Olympics at work during the day as NBC streamed the events online, live from London. And those are just the ones who admitted to it. One digital media company estimated that $650 million of, well, something will be lost by American companies because their workers are watching the Olympics at some point for some amount of time during the work day. (And it's not just an Olympics phenomenon. Last spring, the first two days of March Madness — the period of the wildly popular NCAA men's basketball championship — cost businesses an estimated $175 million in lost productivity.)
These numbers, and even the assumptions behind them, are debatable, of course. Some experts say you can no longer equate productivity with mere hours logged in the office.