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The top 20 ways Britons slack off at work

Slacking off at work has become an art form (Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

How many times have you used a “tactical” toilet break to run down the clock at work?

Maybe you fill in Post-It notes to look busier, or perhaps you know someone who always seems to “work from home” on a Monday or Friday?

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

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On average, British workers slack off for up to 50 minutes a day – or more than four hours a week – usually to carry out personal tasks.

Inventing emergencies to attend to and walking around the office with a sense of urgency also feature in the list of ways workers manage to look busy without actually doing anything.

The study of 2,000 people was conducted for international animal charity SPANA, which provides free veterinary treatment to working animals in developing countries.

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Geoffrey Dennis, its chief executive, 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.”

The study revealed four in 10 workers slack off to get personal tasks completed without anyone knowing, while a third claimed to be bored by their current role.

Another four in 10 grumbled they used to be the model employee, but boredom or resentment had turned them into a slacker.

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One in four 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.


  1. Browsing the internet, with the screen turned away from colleagues
  2. Checking personal emails
  3. Sending messages via Messenger, WhatsApp etc
  4. Browsing social media or online shopping
  5. Disappearing for a little walk
  6. Completing life admin at desk (banking, booking tickets, online food shops etc.)
  7. Staring at the screen looking concentrated – while daydreaming
  8. Tactical toilet breaks
  9. Reading the same document over and over
  10. Doodling, appearing to take serious notes
  11. Writing personal emails in Microsoft Word
  12. Taking as much time off at lunch as possible
  13. Wearing headphones
  14. Creating fictional meetings off-site
  15. Arranging to ‘work from home’
  16. Playing online games – disguised as work
  17. Making fake phone calls
  18. Booking the meeting room for a gossip
  19. Arranging your desk so no one can see your screen
  20. Offering to make numerous tea rounds