19 Things Everyone Does at Work (But Won’t Say Out Loud)

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By Darryl Henderson

The workplace isn’t exactly the most stimulating of environments, often leading to staff members committing some small-scale misdemeanors in order to help the day go by a little more smoothly. Here are 19 things that everyone does at work, albeit on the sly.

Wasting Time at the Water Fountain

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When the clock seems to be ticking slower than ever before, you take every possible measure to waste time, with the communal water fountain being the perfect place to hang out for a while. You’re not the only one, as according to Forbes, 31% of Americans waste at least an hour a day.

Gossiping About Co-Workers

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Workplaces and offices are hotbeds of juicy gossip, most of it directed at the colleagues sharing the space. There could be rumors that people are dating or even rumors that a colleague is hiding a criminal past. 

Scheduling Fake Meetings

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With the rise of online workspaces, it has never been easier to pretend you are engaged in a task when, in actual fact, you just can’t be bothered to respond to anyone for a while. Scheduling fake meetings and setting your status as ‘busy’ is the perfect decoy.

Extended Bathroom Breaks

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The worker’s right to be able to go to the bathroom while on shift has been misused by many, with everyone at one point taking longer than required. It’s the perfect way to waste a bit of time, provided you don’t make it too much of a habit.


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Another common and excellent way to waste time throughout the workday is by doodling endlessly on whatever pieces of paper you have at hand. Whether it be a crisp, white A4 sheet or a fluorescent yellow Post-it note, it’s getting drawn on.

Pretending to Be On the Phone

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You see a colleague who never has anything interesting to say coming over to talk to you. You could sit through five minutes of their ramblings, or you could pretend that you’re in the middle of an important phone call. The choice is easy.

Hiding Snacks in Your Drawer

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As the last hour of the day approaches, the desire for a sugary pick-me-up reaches fever pitch. Thankfully, you’ve hidden away a selection of snacks in your desk drawer that you can dive into, munching away inconspicuously until five o’clock rolls around.

Accidentally Printed Off too Many Copies

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Printers can be clunky, especially in workplaces that choose to divert expenditures to more menial things, such as the boss’ yearly bonus. It’s remarkably easy to accidentally print off 100 copies of something rather than 10, leaving an inevitable scramble to turn the printer off at the wall.

Applying for Other Jobs

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Particularly stressful or mind-numbingly boring days will often call for the activity that would offend every boss, applying for other jobs on the work computer. It will leave your boss ruing the fact that you’re both wasting work time and not staying loyal to your current company.

Half Dressed Yourself

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The pandemic era left many workers operating out of their own homes, with meetings taking place in online settings. This had a dramatic effect on workplace attire, with many choosing to look smart from the waist up, remaining in their pajama bottoms and comfy slippers.

Stolen Stationery

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Stealing stationery from work is more common than most bosses would like to think, with the US Department of Commerce estimating that up to $50 billion worth of stationery is stolen per year. According to The Guardian, two-thirds of people have stolen work supplies, ranging from pens to mobile phones.


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Daydreaming and procrastination are part of most workers’ daily rituals. When faced with a task that is either too large or too boring for you to comprehend, there often seems like little else to do other than to stare at the screen and hope the work completes itself.

Faked Illness

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There are some days when you just cannot face the thought of going to work, prompting you to ring your boss, put on your best sick voice, and lie through your teeth to get the day off. According to USA Today, 40% of workers in the United States have called in sick despite being in perfect health.

Ignoring Emails

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Everyone has, at one point, ignored an email because they couldn’t bear to put themselves through the bore-fest of its contents. Pleading ignorance to ever realizing you have received the email when questioned about it is the next stage of proceedings.

Zoning Out

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There are sometimes several points in the working day when staff will hit proverbial walls, unable to give their full concentration to the job at hand. Unfortunately, this often happens when you least want it to, during meetings or important conversations with colleagues.

Delaying Lunch Breaks

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A commonly used tactic in the workplace is delaying your lunch break for as long as possible, returning from it with barely minutes of the workday left to go. A lot of bosses will set allotted time periods to combat this, for understandable reasons.

Scrolling on Social Media

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Having your phone out on the table in front of you can leave you with a painful itch. The temptation to not pick it up and mindlessly scroll through social media will be too much for a lot of people to bear, especially during moments of intense boredom.

Watching the Clock

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For most workers, the desire for the working day to end so that they can head home is unimaginably strong. This leaves you watching every second tick by on the clock above your desk, ultimately making the day feel even longer than it is.

Bending the Rules

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The workplace code of conduct gets relayed to you time and time again from the moment you sign your contract. However, this doesn’t stop you from trying to get away with bending the rules. According to the Harvard Business Review, this isn’t such a bad thing, as it can improve the engagement of workers.