BOSTON (CBS) – Fantasy football may be cutting into your work schedule. But WBZ business reporter Jeff Brown says many companies are finding that’s okay.

The numbers for fantasy sports in general are staggering: “Approximately 56.8 million Americans will participate in fantasy sports,” says Andy Challenger, of placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Up from about 12.6 million in 2005, so this is a phenomenon that is growing rapidly,” Challenger says.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jeff Brown reports

This year, the firm says nearly two thirds of full time workers will take part in fantasy football and will cost their bosses $16 billion in lost productivity.

But this is a good thing.

“When employees get together and discuss their teams, researching picks… they’re talking to people outside their immediate department,” Challenger says.

And, he says, companies are buying in.

“It really does help create an atmosphere of congeniality; helps create a great company culture within the organization,” he says.

Team building exercises?

“It’s already set up, they don’t have to put a lot of time and effort into creating an activity that can get everybody together in the workplace,” he says.

But what about those who frown on this sort of competition?

“Companies that are cracking down on the culture internally are probably overstepping,” Challenger says.

So what about folks at Challenger, Gray and Christmas?

“Yeah we have a couple teams that are running within our office and next week we have a live draft coming up,” he says.

And for those who aren’t interested in football, there are other opportunities coming.

“March Madness is a great one, where you usually get a lot of non-sports fans involved in the situation,” he says.

The survey finds that short periods of worker distractions contributes to increased productivity in the long run.

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