The period between Christmas and New Year's Day is quiet in offices all over the country.
Most workers have clocked off, packed up and headed away on holiday - leaving a skeleton crew largely unsupervised, and with little to do.
Nevertheless, to preserve the precious annual leave days, those left behind have to continue to put in appearances, so here are our top tips on how to get away with fake working if you are on the clock this holiday season.
1. Nap. Depending on whether you have your office to yourself, or work in an open-plan environment, this may require a bit more strategy in some cases. But resting your head on your hand ensures you stay upright, and facing your computer gives an impression of activity.
2. Change all your social media profile pictures and details to make yourself sound more interesting and intelligent, with a social life that rivals that of the entire Kardashian clan combined.
3. Read. That novel you got for Christmas might give the game away, but there are websites where you can access PDFs of books so anyone glancing at your screen just sees a block of text. Or print it out, and give the impression you are reading a massive report of an undisclosed nature.
This one falls down slightly if you are "checking out" the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy - just to see what the fuss is about of course - and a co-worker catches a peek of one of the more, er, graphic pages.
4. Sign up for internet dating. This has the potential to provide some out-of-office hours entertainment, with all the groundwork done on the clock. Getting paid to Tinder? Don't mind if I do.
5. Make toll calls to friends and family. If anyone asks, your company suddenly built up a contact base in Timaru/Feilding/outer east Mongolia, and it was crucial you were in touch with your new business acquaintances.
6. Plan a holiday. You aren't getting one now, so start plotting what you're going to do with all that annual leave you are wisely not using while everyone else is sunning themselves on the beach. Or camping in the rain. A holiday later in the piece will ensure you're avoiding the crowds anyway, and the weather probably couldn't get much worse than it is now so you are actually on a winning ticket.
7. Online shopping. Whether it's browsing unwanted Christmas presents on Trade Me, or perusing the online sales that you can pop out to in your lunchbreak. Or list your own unwanted presents online to make a quick buck - the office is a great place for setting up a mobile Trade Me business. You have all the required elements for it to be a real success - computer for uploading, stationery for keeping track of purchasers' details, and free postage supplies to send the items out under the guise of work mail.
And, being at a computer all day, you've got nothing better to do than answer those pesky questions about the waist measurement of the pair of pants you have listed for $1 reserve.
8. Bring your new Christmas puppy to work: The woman in accounts who normally tells on you to the building manager is almost certainly on holiday, and it's better that its sharp little teeth chew through the electrical cables at work than at home. If you didn't get a puppy, bring your child to work. Any coworkers also left in the office now double as free childcare, and on the off-chance that your manager is in the office, you have a ready-made excuse when caught playing computer games or drawing with your highlighters.
9. Organising your contact "networking" calendar for January (has to be done now the Christmas party season is over). While you're at it, organise the filters on your email inbox so that emails reminding everyone to clean their coffee cup/ leave the toilet seat down/ not bring in pets are handily redirected to your spam filter.
10. "Work" from home. The digital age means iPads and iPhones are the fake worker's best friend - you could be anywhere, and as long as you respond to that email before the boss calls, no-one ever needs to know you are actually at the pub/golf course/lying on a beach.
Hat tip to Slate.com
* Got any fake work tips? Share in the comments below:
- Fairfax Media