I saw something recently on social media that I found interesting. Someone was trying to calculate the amount of lost business productivity from dealing with ‘thank you’ emails – the writing, sending, receiving, and reading of short emails simply thanking someone for answering a question or completing a task. I’m not going to argue with his math (he estimated the global loss of productivity at a “conservative” 43,000 years annually), but what struck me more was the frightening idea that ‘thank you’ emails could be seen as lost productivity.

It’s not coincidental that this semi-serious musing about lost productivity was happening in the midst of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Right alongside every story about office bracket pools and March Madness, is some story about all of the lost productivity in workplaces especially during the first two days of the tournament (on a Thursday and Friday). But then I read a charming interview with with John Challenger, whose firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas is behind one of the original $1.8B estimates of March Madness lost productivity. He thinks that the prevalence of the NCAA tournament in today’s work environment is a good thing and a direct corollary to the way that increased technological connectivity allows work to bleed into life — in fact, the tournament is an event that allows life to bleed into work. Challenger suggests that employers should embrace the morale boost provided by Mach Madness, with its office pool participation, long lunches enjoyed, and personal days taken.

I tend to agree with him. At a time when companies are struggling to create bonds to keep people together, why not see this time of year as an opportunity instead of dreading the lost productivity? And that goes double for thank you emails. These kind of notes, along with many other seemingly meaningless gestures are the things that create bonds of goodwill between coworkers. So Thank You for taking the time to read this post!

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