Fantasy football at work: team-building miracle or productivity killer?

Has a touchdown pass from Peyton Manning ever made your Monday? Do you privately mourn Adrian Peterson’s bye week? If so, you may well be one of the millions of people who revel in the joys of fantasy football.

As the popularity of fantasy has grown along with web and mobile access, fantasy leagues have become a staple of not only players’ personal lives, but also of their business relationships. Office fantasy leagues are popping up in teams of all sizes. But is the increase in sports talk detrimental to workplace productivity? Definitely not, says Nick Woerner, manager of the Citrix ShareFile account management team.

Nick joined his first fantasy football league in 1998, and has spent the past nine years playing in the same league. He does not participate in any leagues with coworkers, but not out of concern for work.

“I don’t like to play in multiple leagues,” Woerner explains. “You end up rooting against yourself—and saying stuff like, maybe I really need this guy to get a touchdown, but maybe only one, because I have to play against him in my other league.”

However, as a manager, Woerner says that his employees have organized multiple leagues to play against coworkers, and he is strongly in favor of the results. When I asked if the perception that fantasy players spend hours researching and setting lineups each week is true, he says that isn’t a concern for the average player.

“It doesn’t hurt productivity. It probably comes out to about 20 minutes a week, which is pretty minimal. Because you play once a week, you set your lineup, and you’re good to go.”
Moreover, Woerner says that he sees employee fantasy leagues as a good way for employees to bond and engage in teambuilding outside of work hours. One league held its draft in the office one night after work, and another group gathers on Sundays to watch football together and track scores.

“It’s definitely good for building camaraderie,” says Woerner.

Does your office engage in fantasy leagues together? What effects have you seen on your team’s productivity or team dynamic as a result? Use the comment section below to let us know.