• Tue, Oct 22 - 3:30 pm ET

Smokers Are Just As Bad As Colleagues With Kids When It Comes To Mooching Time Out Of The Office

shutterstock_147532502__1382468128_142.196.156.251Working parents aren’t the only annoying colleagues sucking time off out from under your nose. Smokers get more time away from the office, too. They just do it in sneaky little increments every day so no one notices.

Smokers who nip out of the office for fag breaks work a whole week less than their non-smoking colleagues each year, research shows.

Every day smokers spend an average of 45 minutes away from their work, which adds up to nearly four hours per week.

Over a year this amounts to smokers working seven fewer days than their colleagues who do not smoke, according to a study for Voucher Codes Pro.

I can’t find the actual “study” and the Daily Mail never provides any links to anything. But I bring up the article to bring up a few points; no one is a perfect employee, no one is a perfect employer, and it is up to all of us individually to set our own boundaries and not allow others to step over them.

Every time I hear a complaint about moms or dads who aren’t expected to do overtime or work on holidays, I always want to ask the person complaining why they don’t demand some time off, too? Same goes for every time I hear someone complain about a smoking co-worker. Why don’t you step outside for some fresh air? If your place of work allows you to step outside for a cigarette, I can’t imagine they won’t let you step outside to stretch your legs.

In the “Hierarchy of Annoying” that exists at the workplace, I guess it would go like this – from least annoying to most annoying:

Colleagues who can’t say no, ever. 

These people have never been taught boundaries so they will let themselves be unapologetically walked all over and you can’t help but love them because they will always cover for you.

Workers who have a regular appointment that they “can’t miss” i.e. trainer, yoga, manicure – whatever. You secretly admire these people for having boundaries but they also annoy you because you don’t.

Workers who smoke. As the “study” says, they get more time out of the office than non-smokers.

Parents.

They inevitably have sick children, recitals and soccer games and always have an excuse to not cover for you.

Parents who smoke. 

Worst of both worlds. Time out of the office, and they always have an excuse to not cover for you.

See – everyone is annoying, except for the people who can’t say ‘no.’ If you don’t fall into one of the last four categories, I suggest you start making stuff up so you can get some breaks, too.

(photo: PH Studio/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Lee

    If smokers time adds up to a week a year I can’t imagine how much time
    “off” I took when I was pregnant and had to pee about every 30 minutes
    for almost the entire 40 weeks.
    I take a walk around the building everyday at 3 when the smokers are put to make myself a more productive worker for the rest of the day (it’s not quite 3 yet, so you can see how productive I being right now commenting on posts on Mommyish).

    • Jessica

      I think it’s safe to say we all waste time while working. Perhaps it’s time to go to a results-only work model?

    • Andrea

      Some more progressive companies do that. Specially smaller companies. The whole face time thing is such a load of bullshit. Why should someone look good just cuz they show up early and stay late if all the do is take breaks (of whatever kind), hang around the watercooler, and take personal phone calls all day?

  • The Hero of Akron-Canton

    I don’t care about the people wasting time smoking. I do, however, get angry when my coworker walks past my office after his smoke breaks and trails his repulsive stench after him so that I can’t breathe despite the fact that I am sitting in my own office with my window open.

    • Rachel Sea

      I like the smell of cigarette smoke, but the smell of the wet cigarette butts dropped under my office windw is gross, and I thought so when I was a smoker myself.

    • Rachel

      Ick, that’s just inconsiderate. It would ping my OCD so hard…

  • DrStephanieDVM

    I used to work in an office where most of my coworkers smoked. I started taking nonsmoking breaks for every smoke break they took :-)

  • Alex

    I really don’t care if my coworkers take as many breaks as often as possible and generally do the bare minimum. Less for me to compete with when performance reviews and bonuses and amazing career opportunities come up, but I would imagine that opinion really only applies if you enjoy your job.

    As far as parents and non-parents and smokers and non-smokers all competing for limited breaks, they key issue is recognizing the difference between needs and wants. All needs should take priority over all wants, but we cannot confuse wants with needs. Taking a sick child to the pediatrician is a need that should trump my weekly basketball league. Attending your child’s dance recital is a want that should not trump having dinner with my best friend who is in town for the first time in six months. I think most people are reasonable about accommodating both wants and needs, but we get much more reluctant if we feel a coworker is taking advantage of said accommodation “by making stuff up to get breaks”.

  • AlexMMR

    I’m constantly reading various productivity studies that say you should get up and do something else for about 10 minutes of every hour. When you keep slogging away and don’t let your mind take a break, answers to various problems continue to elude you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone on a 5-10 minute break and had a “oh duh!” moment during that time that allowed me to come back in and accomplish what I’d been trying to accomplish the previous hour or two.

    So no, smoke breaks are not necessarily lazy, non-working moments. They are brain breaks that allow the problems of your work to move to the subconscious so the problem has a chance to be worked out and the answer to pop into your conscious mind. Taking 3 10 minute breaks throughout the day has a very different effect on productivity than leaving 30 minutes early to attend a function does.

  • That_Darn_Kat

    Jeez, I’d like to work where these people are working…where I have the ability to take extra breaks just for smoking. I used to be a regular smoker, and I have NEVER had a job where I was allowed extra time for smoking. I got the same number of breaks and the same time for breaks as non-smoking coworkers. Heck, in one place I worked, the smoking area was a 3 minute walk from the doors, and you weren’t allowed to light up until you got there, so I actually had less time to smoke. I didn’t care, but seriously, I’m sure there are places out there that allow smokers extra breaks, but I’ve just never worked there.

    • Rachel Sea

      Since I quit smoking, I pretty much quit taking breaks. I could take them if I wanted, but without a reason to get up and go outside, I just don’t. Many of my former-smoker colleagues are the same.

      When I did smoke, I wasn’t permitted extra breaks, but since I worked for a smoker, we sometimes had “meetings” in the smoking section, and while we did usually talk about work, they were really just extra breaks.

  • Blueathena623

    The collegues who can’t say no, ever, are only the least annoying if they aren’t passive aggressive snots about it the second you walk away

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Haha – so true!

  • Annona

    I always used to let my non-smoking employees take “fresh air” breaks. Everyone got two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch for an 8 hour day, that’s pretty standard I think. I’ve never worked anywhere where smokers got extra breaks, and I’ve worked a couple of jobs where you weren’t allowed to smoke on the premises at all.

    And I never really understood people grumbling about parents in the workplace. I mean, I get it, sometimes they have to take extra time off. But if you’d honestly rather be stuck at home with a projectile vomiting sick child than at work, I think you should really reevaluate your career choice.

  • Emil

    What about the employee that spends too much time on mommyish- that would be me.

    • pineapplegrasss

      omg me too. but I’m not outside smoking, so they don’t know!

  • Byron

    Workers smoke outside of the office only because other workers want them to. Trust me, they’re much rather be able to smoke in the office while working and, unlike breastfeeding or looking after a child, it would not actually detract from their performance. It would most likely enhance it.

    To put it simply, you can still do work while you smoke. You can still do other stuff. It is not an activity that out of it’s basic nature precludes other activities. Therefore it is a false equivalency to compare smoking to activities such as parenting which inherently can’t be done silmutaneous to working in an office.

    Is there any research for how much time smokers who work from home or in a smoking-ok environment miss out from work? Because only that data would be a fair comparison to the data of parents.

  • G.S.

    I don’t know, I’d MUCH rather let the smoker go have a smoke break than have him go without and become stressed out and miserable from withdrawal, thus having him be WAY less productive than he could have been that day. It’s a fair trade-off, IMO. And I’m fairly sure if the smokers can go have a smoke for ten minutes every couple of hours, you could get up and walk around a bit or something at some point that day.

  • G.S.

    I don’t know, I’d MUCH rather let the smoker go have a smoke break than have him go without and become stressed out and miserable from withdrawal, thus having him be WAY less productive than he could have been that day. It’s a fair trade-off, IMO. And I’m fairly sure if the smokers can go have a smoke for ten minutes every couple of hours, you could get up and walk around a bit or something at some point that day.

    • Amanda

      One of my bosses quit smoking during a busy season once. Cold turkey too, no pills, patches or gum for him! We were this close to either strangling him or buying him a pack and he damn near got fired for being so surly.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Take a fresh air break, a walk-around-the-block-to-clear-your-head break, or whatever, when the smokers take their smoke break.

    • aliceblue

      When everybody leaves it is so peaceful & I can be so productive so I prefer to save my time for when they return. :)

  • JLH1986

    I work in a place where the don’t say anything if you’re a smoker, but if I step outside or take a 15 minute personal call? Not Ok, wasting company time. But we have beer and wine so I’m willing to forgo the break for beer.

  • Justme

    You know who I think is the most annoying? People who complain about their coworkers annoying habits (that ultimately affect them and the general production of the office) but yet…never speak up and voice their frustrations or concerns.