Credit: Watercooler break image via Shutterstock
Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t the first employer in history to berate an employee for conducting personal business on company time. And he probably won’t be the last. But that attitude about how employees manage their days is becoming as much a relic as he is. A large number of tasks that may have been considered taboo in the past are now seen by many as acceptable practices at work today, a new study shows.
Forty-eight percent of bosses in the U.S. don't mind when employees take longer lunches and are OK with staff getting together to enjoy office banter and to take regular breaks, according to a study of study of 1,000 U.S., British, German, French and Irish employees and employers sponsored by Mozy, a data protection and backup services provider.
On average across the countries surveyed, 37 percent allow employees to take longer lunch breaks. This new latitude toward employee time management is less a new measure of employer largesse than it is an acknowledgement of how the adoption of mobile technology has made work become "a thing that you do" rather than "a place that you go," Mozy said.
Employees have been quick to take advantage of this freedom. More than half of employees think nothing of leaving work early for a doctor's appointment, with nearly one in five (18 percent) eating breakfast at the desk or taking time out to research vacations or shopping (21 percent).
The study found that these were the top 10 personal tasks that employees felt it was OK to do at work:
- Leaving early for the doctor or dentist
- Personal phone calls
- Regular tea/coffee/watercooler breaks
- Chatting with colleagues
- Sending a few personal emails
- Taking a long lunch
- Online banking
- Leaving work early for a child’s performance at school
- Paying a few bills
- Listening to music