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EDITIONS
Friday, 23 August, 2002, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Looking for the slack
Man using laptop in empty room
Work: Take it lying down
It's National Slacker Day. But with hard times beginning to bite in many offices, is it the end of the line for loafing about?

If you're reading this at work, you are trying too hard. Friday is National Slacker Day.

It's a day to bunk off work and do nothing, according to the organisers. Even a spot of premature Bank Holiday Weekend DIY is frowned upon.

Simon Pegg
Simon Pegg: Laid back, but still working
"Slacker Day intends to remind people that life does not revolve around the office," goes the blurb, "and that a day spent in bed or in front of the telly can make a remarkable improvement to your health and happiness."

Still not convinced? The organisers have even got a celebrity - comedian Simon Pegg, from Channel 4's Spaced - to endorse the campaign.

"It is vital to understand the importance of doing nothing. Slacking is a necessity; it is Yin to activity's Yang," he advises on the Slacker Day website.

Don't broadcast it

However, it appears that Pegg is not the avowed slacker he appears to be.

A phone call to his agent revealed that he is in fact breaking the first and only rule in the Slacker Day handbook, by working. In Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival, he will be presenting a three-hour radio show this afternoon.

Man asleep
That's the way to do it
And there, perhaps, is the problem with slacking in a world which does not owe any of us a living. Like Pegg, we all have to take the work when we can get it.

That is true now more than ever. Born as a credo in the early 1990s, slacking sits uncomfortably in these meaner and leaner times.

Slacking and the dot.com boom went together like stock market optimism and share options.

That was then

The culture permeated into the mainstream and soon even the banking crowd were in on the act, shedding their stiff suits and brogues for more casual work attire.

Then came the dot.com meltdown, the bull market and a successive round of belt-tightening in boardrooms around the world. The United States - the birthplace of slacker culture - fell into recession while on this side of the Atlantic thousands of jobs have been sacrificed in corporate "restructuring" drives.

Ken Livingstone yawning
The long-hours culture takes its toll
Some more traditional employers have even rescinded their "dress down" policy.

Tom Needs, the man behind National Slacker Day, concedes that not everyone will have the luxury of being able to take the day off.

"People will have to use their own discretion. I don't want them to lose their jobs over something like this," he says.

"We work the longest hours of any country in Europe and we get fewer bank holidays than most. Times are hard at the moment and people are having to work harder. That's even more reason why we should get a day to slack."

Yet the problem could be that we are slacking too much. After all, while Britons work longer hours than their continental cousins, they are less productive than those in Germany, France and Italy.

So are we simply taking it easy on work time?

There is a lot of time wasting, says Diane Sinclair of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.

"The problem arises where there's a long working hours culture so employees need to be seen at the office, despite the fact they are not doing anything productive," she says.

"Employees need to get the right balance between working hard and working long hours, so they maximise their performance."


Some of your comments so far:

The best way to slack in the office is to look busy at your desk. I always cover my desk in piles of paperwork, even though it's irrelavent and probably something I worked on many months ago. Works for me.
Wendy, UK

slacking is great, i rarely have time for full on slacking these days, but i get in a few minutes of doing bugger all when i can.
DeeJay Scorchio, England

Ohhh, that might explain why my husband was still in bed when I called him at 10am... he claimed it was a "holiday" though. I hope he won't slack sufficiently that he forgets to do the housework!
Susie Witterick, UK

humph...yeah well... oh forget it..can't be bothered
Matt, England

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