Deskside skiving adds up to seven days holiday a year

One third of office staff could be adding up to 14 days unofficial holiday a year through ‘desk skiving’ outside official work breaks, a new survey suggests.

A study for workforce management company Captor Group of almost 1,500 UK employees with Internet and mobile phone access at work, shows that more than 80% said they went online or texted for personal reasons when they should have been working.

More than one third of respondents said they average 15 to 30 minutes a day on personal web surfing, e-mails or texts when they should be working. This equates to between 7 and 14 days unofficial holiday a year.

Only 21% said they did not do this at all, or only did so on official work breaks. More than 8% said they spend about two hours a day or more doing this, and women are twice as likely as men to spend about two hours a day online.

When asked why they do it, needing to get something personal done in a hurry was the main reason, followed by needing a break and boredom. 

Thirty per cent said it was because they often have to work extra hours or through lunch: 6% said it was because they did not have to pay for it at work.

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Lancaster, said staff work harder and more intensively than ever so taking personal time out to get things done in work time seems an inevitable consequence.

“Employers should not over-react. I would advise giving employees this sort of flexibility, if they are getting the job done, but don’t let them abuse the privilege,” he said.

Favourite desk skiving activities include:



  • Looking at news online (58%)
  • Personal research on search engines (54%)
  • Personal texts (30%)
  • Online shopping (27%)
  • Nearly a quarter have looked for another job online and played desktop or online games
  • Nearly 20% have taken part on online auctions
  • Fewer than 5% of respondents admit to spending any time on either online dating, gambling (twice as many men as women), blogging, chat rooms or adult content websites (four times as many men as women)
  • About 15% say they spend more time on personal e-mail than work e-mail and 14% use instant messaging to talk to friends – particularly women.

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