Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

Office time wasting tactics revealed

We’ve all done it at some point – volunteered to do a tea-round, had a mini toilet nap, or been overcome by the irresistible urge to get your desk just right. Now a recent study has discovered the top ways that Brits waste time at work. The results are pretty entertaining – and one that many workers can probably relate to!

83% of employees confessed to have tidied paperwork on their desk in order to waste time

Oof. That’s a lot of paper-shuffling and shredding. In order to lessen the impact of this in the office, why not instigate a clear desk policy, where all paperwork and other bits and bobs will be unceremoniously chucked away at the end of the day if it’s not filed away properly or dealt with? This will avoid the backlog that leads to fiddling around with documents, and will create a neater working environment. Or, better yet, take the plunge: make the office completely paperless. No excuses then!

79% admitted to reorganising their email inbox in a bid to make the minutes go by

This is a tricky one,  as there’s no doubt that an organised email system helps your employees find what they’re looking for quickly and avoid missing important messages – spending a bit of time every day deleting, clearing out, re-filing and generally working towards that hallowed goal of ‘Inbox Zero’ can look like time-wasting, but is actually beneficial. If your colleagues see it as skiving, even better!

76%, said that they had spent a longer time than necessary in the toilet in order to help the day go quicker

If the toilet is preferable to the office environment, you really must be desperate for the clock to hit six. If this is really a serious problem, you could consider getting everyone to clock in their bathroom time – but it’s unlikely your employees will feel positive about this, so make this a last resort. Instead, try talking to your employees about the problem first. Or sneakily ramp up the air-conditioning in the bathroom so that they won’t want to hang around!

18%, said they took extra cigarette breaks and almost one in 20, four per cent, confessed to pretending to smoke just to get away from their desks

To get around this one, implement a zero-tolerance smoking policy where employees can’t smoke outside the office or take cigarette breaks,They can smoke on in their own time.. This also avoids the resentment of smokers getting extra breaks.

57%, said that they had offered to make a large round of teas and coffees so they could spend some time in the kitchen rather than at their desk

Aha, this one is sneaky – you’re both doing a good deed and getting away from your work for ten minutes. But to avoid people taking advantage, why not install a drinks machine in the office rather than having to go through the rigmarole of boiling a kettle? If your office isn’t big enough to justify this, try a tea and coffee rota, so that it’s a task distributed fairly and at specific times of the day.

66% said that they had deliberately started conversations about non-work related matters to pass the time

A bit of office banter is good for morale and helps everyone bond. But too many pointless conversations can disturb and annoy everyone else in the office – this distraction technique is one that doesn’t just affect one person’s work, but everyone else’s too. Try instigating “Power hour”, especially in small offices – a dedicated time when everyone has to communicate only via email, and concentrate on their work. It’s surprisingly effective!

James Dunworth, co-founder of ECigaretteDirect.co.uk commented: “We all have those days when you could do with it being 5:30 by about 3pm. But the key to making your day go fast is to effectively manage your time and to keep yourself busy.

“Often I prioritise my day’s actions, leaving the most enjoyable tasks to the afternoon – that way the end of the working day seems to go much quicker and you don’t need to waste time hanging around in the loo or shredding paper!”