UK office workers often misjudge their employer’s levels of strictness, according to Office Angels’ Ahead of the Game survey. The results demonstrate that employers’ and employees’ ideas of what is acceptable in the workplace frequently diverge, with employees commonly setting themselves higher standards than their employer. One figure that stands out shows that over a quarter (28%) of employees thought that taking personal calls during office hours was never acceptable, whilst only 4.8% of employers held the same opinion. The differences suggest office workers are dedicated and hard working and may put greater constraints on themselves than is sometimes necessary.

The key findings of the survey include:

  • More than half of the employers surveyed (53%) said they thought going to the gym at lunchtime was always acceptable, compared to a third of employees (34%).
  • 64% of employees think using their full lunch entitlement is acceptable, compared to 85% of employers.
  • 8% of employees thought it was never acceptable to talk about their weekend at work whereas only 1% of employers agreed, with over half (51%) saying this was always or frequently ok.
  • Two thirds (64%) of employees think shopping online during the working day is never acceptable, against 40% of employers.
  •   Over five percent (6.7%) of workers think they should never visit the doctor or dentist during working hours.

Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director of Office Angels said:
“A professional attitude marks out employees who can self-regulate and show dedication to high standards, and we would always encourage this amongst our candidates. However, as this research shows, employers recognise the importance of flexibility and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
“We realise that taking a full lunch break will not always be possible, but employees must remember the benefits to productivity and health that time away from their desks bring. Managers realise the importance of breaks, and we would recommend to candidates that if using their full lunch entitlement isn’t possible then they should ensure they spend 5 minutes every hour or so away from their computer screen.
“Whilst we welcome the findings, employees should be aware that their employers are approachable. Behaviours such as taking lunch breaks and making a doctor’s appointment during office hours are certainly acceptable and will be treated with understanding – employers will continue to reward such willing adherence to company rules with trust in their staff”.