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Nonprofit HR’s Blog

(I swear this is the last March Madness post of the year.)

So your organization did not listen to my sage advice about not fighting the NCAA national basketball tournament by trying to discourage office pools and game monitoring at work? You instead decided to plot with the IT Department to block any access to the games over the Internet. Well, I told you it was a battle you could not win.

It turns out there’s an app for that…from Mashable:

“One of the great joys — and frustrations — of March Madness is how many of the games take place during the day. You can either spend hours on end in hoops nirvana, or be foiled by productivity-focused workplaces that block your streaming access to the action.

But if your company puts up a basketball-blocking firewall to stop you from streaming, take heart: There’s an app for that.

Hotspot Shield is a free VPN for your computer (or iOS or Android mobile device) meaning it sets up a virtual private network between your machine and its own Internet gateway.

In short, it lets you circumvent that office firewall to stream online video — March Madness, in this case — to your heart’s content. And if your IT department or bosses do somehow notice someone streaming hoops, your IP address is obfuscated to keep your identity secret.

The company’s been around for some time and claims some impressive stats, including more than 100 million total downloads and 50 million monthly active users. For last year’s tournament, the company says visits to NCAA.com and CBSSports.com through Hotspot Shield increased by an average of 710%. During the first day of round-of-64 games on March 15, traffic to those sites surged by 2,270%.

So this is not say we’d ever advocate slacking off at work, and not to say your boss won’t somehow catch you paying more attention to upset alerts than TPS reports. A less honorable outlet that would promote such things, however, might recommend giving Hotspot Shield a look.”

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