How slacking off can contribute to workplace productivity

Slacking off at work is traditionally seen as something to be hidden from managers. However, including slacking off in a workplace culture can be a way to promote productivity, according to REFFIND.

Rob van Es, acting CEO, REFFIND, said, “Productivity should not be measured by the hours an employee spends at work. Research has found that the more time an employee spends at work over a week, the more likely they are to be unproductive. (1)”

Managers driven by their own key performance indicators and economic pressure can lose sight of how best to get results from employees. It’s important that they recognise different styles of working and manage employees accordingly.

REFFIND has identified three key workplace personality types that may be mistaken as slacking off when they’re really doing what they can to produce the best results:

1. The Thinker: This employee needs time away from their desk to stare into space. Managers should let them chill out uninterrupted so they can do the thinking required to get their job done.

2. The Napper: Sleeping on the job is frowned upon in Australia but in many other cultures, napping throughout the day, and even in the workplace, is an accepted way to boost productivity.

Rob van Es said, “Many people find powernaps a great way to beat mid-afternoon lag. Workplaces are starting to introduce napping rooms to let employees recharge throughout the day.”

3. The Talker: This employee can be the most disruptive in the office for others, but some people work best when they talk things through with colleagues. Managers should give this personality type the forum to do so, be it in formal meetings or time to chat in the tearoom.

Rob van Es said, “The most effective way to foster productivity in the workplace is to ask employees how they like to work. This means managers know exactly how to get the most from their staff and can better identify when employees are really slacking off. ”

Reference: (1) National Bureau of Economic Research, ‘Not Working at Work: Loafing, Unemployment and Labor Productivity’, 2016.