Just as the nation's top college basketball teams are preparing for this month's NCAA tournament, so too are IT departments around the country.

New research from IT staffing firm Modis revealed that more than one-third of businesses across the country take action to prepare their networks for the increased traffic during March Madness. Overall, more than 40 percent of the companies surveyed have had their networks either slowed or even temporarily shut down by the popular three-week college basketball tournament.

"Compared to browsing an online shopping website or using a personal email site, events like March Madness that encourage live streaming can be extremely taxing on a company's IT systems," said Jack Cullen, president of Modis. "At the end of the day, the IT team’s responsibility is to maintain the integrity of a company’s infrastructure and data so that the business can continue to function."

Preparing for March Madness and other network-straining events can be quite taxing on IT professionals. The study shows that nearly half of IT professionals work overtime to get ready for events like the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, while 30 percent have pulled all-nighters to prepare for network burdens. In addition, 34 percent have been forced into action while on vacation.
 

"Our survey showed that the stricter the IT policies are at a company, the harder networking professionals will have to work," Cullen said.

March Madness viewing by employees isn't the only thing keeping IT departments busy. The research discovered that nearly half of companies block, throttle or ban non-work content in the office. Facebook and Hulu are the two most frequent targets.

"When employees are able to freely enjoy these types of events from their desks, it also taxes the IT team members and takes them away from their primary job responsibilities," Cullen said.

Employees can expect online restrictions to get stiffer. Nearly 30 percent of the IT professionals surveyed anticipate their workplace's content streaming policy will get stricter over the next two years.

The best bet for those trying to skirt the March Madness crackdown and other online rules is to become the boss. The research found that two-thirds of IT professionals make exceptions to the company's content streaming policy for the head of the company, while 52 percent make sure all senior employees are exempt.

The study was based on surveys of more than 500 IT professionals across the country.

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