March Madness is in full swing and employers everywhere are cringing. In addition to increased requests for vacation and/or phantom sick calls from workers who want to stay home and watch the NCAA basketball championships or the NCAA wrestling championships - employers - and especially IT departments - are dealing with workers who insist on viewing the NCAA tournament while at work.
If you're one of those employees sitting at work, watching, listening or streaming games and think your employer doesn't know - think again, says Jim Melvin, CEO of AppNeta, a company that arms network and application engineers with the end-to-end visibility needed to know how users experience applications across the network. One report stated that employees spend at least three hours a day watching March Madness on company time - are you one of them?
"Employees who do stream the games live while at work should be aware that some employers have the ability to see what they are really doing, especially if the streaming has a significant impact on company resources," says Melvin.
Below, Melvin explains how some network performance management tools can actually identify video streaming along with the source, which means managers can identify when you are working, versus watching a game on your desktop or personal device. And this can lead to serious career ramifications for the employee - in addition to just a loss in productivity for the office overall.
Here is what Melvin had to say:
1. Why do employees need to be cautious when trying to watch March Madness at work? What problems can it cause?
Melvin: Streaming the March Madness games over a corporate network consumes a lot of bandwidth. With increased bandwidth demands for non-business activity like watching YouTube, streaming video and Pandora, other business-critical applications such as VoIP phones, video conferencing services or CRM systems like Salesforce.com are impacted. When application performance slows down, so does business!
Many companies use network performance monitoring solutions like AppNeta’s PathView Cloud to easily understand who and what is using up all of the bandwidth and causing disruptive application performance problems for end users.
2. What do employers know that they won't share about activity on one's personal computer, especially during March Madness? Do employers watch individuals?
Melvin: Network monitoring tools have become much more powerful. In the era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and 24/7 access to streaming media, it is important for employers to identify how their network resources are being used, and if they are potentially impacting business productivity. AppNeta’s PathView Cloud service can easily assess network traffic usage, by host, device and application -- whether it’s a company laptop or a personal smart phone or tablet.
3. What other secrets/scenarios go on that people don't know about that cause problems?
Melvin: The BYOD trend is making this a top priority for organizations of all sizes. Streaming any kind of media on a personal device that relies on the corporate network can become a problem. Examples of this include YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, and iTunes. Here is an example: a single YouTube stream can be 300KB/second up to 3MB/second - and that's just one person watching it. Syncing video and music libraries to a personal device can cripple a network depending on existing demand on network bandwidth.
4. What other options are there for those who just can't follow policy and need to watch March Madness from work?
Melvin: Just know that today there are performance monitoring tools like PathView Cloud that quickly identify which device and user is the bandwidth hog! And organizations that are using network traffic monitoring solutions will see this during March Madness week.
5. What tips can you give you to workers stuck in the office? Is there anything they can do, or is a vacation day or two the best way to avoid this?
Melvin: I believe alternatives methods would be to use your vacation days if you really need to be glued to all the games, or record/DVR the games and hold tight until you get home from work!