50 ways of slacking off at work

Tuesday 02 January 2018 10:09 GMT

Tactical toilet breaks, booking meeting rooms for a gossip, and taking compassionate leave for the death of a non-existent granny have emerged among a list of the top 50 ways Brits “slack off” at work.

Researchers who polled 2,000 office workers also found having a mirror on the side of the computer to see when the boss is coming will be a favourite ruse as employees across Britain return to work glum-faced following the festive break.

Booking out the boardroom for a power nap, doodling under the pretence of serious note taking and creating fictional meetings off-site are other ways Brits will avoid their hefty workloads.

The study also showed the average worker slacks off for up to 50 minutes a day – or more than four hours a week – usually to carry out personal tasks.

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of international animal charity SPANA, which provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries, said: “Returning to work after the holiday season can come as a shock to the system – and no doubt some workers will be easing themselves back in slowly this week.

“Many people in this country undoubtedly work very hard, but it’s clear from these findings that office workers are finding creative ways of putting their feet up for a break.''

Other bizarre ways workers avoid knuckling down include disappearing for little walks, disabling sleep-mode on the PC and writing personal emails in Microsoft Word.

Constantly writing things on Post-It notes to give the illusion of a ‘busy desk’, inventing emergencies to attend to and walking around the office with a sense of urgency also feature in the list.

It also emerged the workforce will make fake phones calls, browse social media and staring at the computer screen with a look of concentration, while daydreaming in a bid to look busy.

The study also found four in 10 workers slack off to get personal tasks completed without anyone knowing, while 34 per cent claimed to be bored by their current role.

One fifth of those polled admitted they lack energy after a busy morning and so are most likely to slack off in the afternoon.

Around 42 per cent often duck responsibilities because their job is 'easy'.

Another 41 per cent grumbled they used to be the model employee, but boredom or resentment has turned them into a slacker.

Twenty six per cent admitted their tendency to slack off is holding them back from progressing in their career.

Unfortunately, one in 10 workers haven’t disguised their ‘skiving’ very well, and have been disciplined with either a serious talking to, a written reprimand, a performance improvement plan or by being shouted at in front of colleagues.

Geoffrey Dennis added: “Although the back-to-work transition may feel hard, we should remember that this is a very minor issue compared to the tough working lives endured by working animals overseas.

''These animals often lead short, painful lives, working in dangerous environments, without access to veterinary care when they are sick or injured. They desperately need our help.

''They work tirelessly, often carrying back-breaking loads in extreme conditions, to help people in the poorest communities earn a small income.

''And, like their owners, they never get to enjoy rest periods, lazy afternoons or holidays.”

* SPANA is working to improve their welfare, ensuring that working animals receive the vital vet treatment they need, as well as educating owners about how to best care for their animals.


1. Browsing the internet

2. Surfing the internet the screen turned away from colleagues

3. Checking personal emails

4. Sending messages via Messenger, WhatsApp etc

5. Browsing social media

6. Disappearing for a little walk

7. Online shopping

8. Completing life admin at desk (banking, booking tickets, online food shops etc.)

9. Eating lunch at your desk

10. Staring at the screen looking concentrated – while daydreaming

11. Tactical toilet breaks

12. Reading the same document over and over

13. Doodling, appearing to take serious notes

14. A drink ready to tactically refill when a break is needed

15. Starting kitchen conversations

16. Writing personal emails in Microsoft Word

17. Quickly switching between tabs and windows

18. Taking as much time off at lunch as possible

19. Wearing headphones

20. Creating fictional meetings off-site

21. Go for ‘a number two’

22. Arranging to ‘work from home’

23. Reading a newspaper

24. Playing online games – disguised as work

25. Starting water cooler conversations

26. Making fake phone calls

27. Booking the meeting room for a gossip

28. Regular fag breaks

29. Arranging your desk so no one can see your screen

30. Offering to make numerous tea rounds

31. Adjusting the brightness of the screen so no-one can what’s on there

32. Constantly writing things on Post-it notes

33. Taking compassionate leave for the death of a non-existent granny / granddad

34. Walking around the office with a sense of urgency

35. Keep checking, and staring, at your watch

36. Watching TV on your PC/phone/laptop

37. Cluttering your desk to look ‘snowed under’

38. Sending late night emails

39. Attending fake medical appointments

40. Printing out copious amounts of “documents”

41. Booking out the boardroom for a power nap

42. Inventing medical issues – stomach cramps, migraines, headaches

43. Inventing emergencies to attend to

44. Having a mirror on the PC to check when the boss is coming

45. Pretending there is a fault with your PC/laptop/phone

46. Organising ‘urgent’ mobile phone calls with friends

47. Having sex in the office (i.e. toilet, stationery cupboard)

48. Running a separate business, side-line or other non-work project

49. Pretending to photocopy

50. Disabling sleep mode on your computer screen


Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in