I have been observing my supervisor and found that he doesn't move around much. In contrast, I move around the office quite often. I go to the restroom, go to the pantry to refill my tea about 5-6 times a day, etc

Maybe sitting in front of the computer all day long gives an impression that you are working hard.

Should I be using my supervisor as a role model to follow, and trying to restrain my activities? Why or why not?

6 Answers 6


Certainly being at your workstation all day gives the impression of working hard, but it's easy to "slack off" while still appearing to be working, and not moving all day can be bad for your health.

What should count is that you finish your allotted work within the agreed time frame (what ever that happens to be).

If you are working with a computer you should be taking 5 minute breaks every hour anyway to refocus your eyes on something else other than your screen. You don't have to get up from your desk to do this, but if you combine it with a toilet break or a visit to the kitchen to get a drink then that's not a problem.

  • 14
    but it's easy to "slack off" while still appearing to be working You mean like I'm doing right now? ;P
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 13:01
  • @YannisRizos - probably :)
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 13:01
  • 1
    +1 for it's easy to "slack off" while still appearing to be working, I've seen someone fall asleep at their desk with their head resting on their hand, facing the screen, looking very pensive and thoughtful. The only way to tell is that their eyes are closed, and for that you have to get right up beside them. Someone walking down the corridor past their desk would never know. I'd give another +1 for 5 minute breaks every hour anyway to refocus your eyes on something else other than your screen if I could. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 13:45
  • +1 for ChrisF's answer. But I'd also add that sitting for extended periods of time is not what our bodies are designed to do. So I'd say that it's a good thing that OP is getting up and walking around a little. Also, I've found that going for a short walk helps to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand. I've had plenty of House-like moments while replenishing my coffee, which allowed me to fix that "one last bug" (tm) when I got back to my desk Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 15:31

Your boss is modeling a style that could send you to an early grave.

That seems more important than making my workstyle an exact match to my boss's. Most people accept that different people will have different styles of work within certain boundaries. Some people drink coffee; others don't. Some people like to listen to headphones; others don't. Some people bring their lunch; others go out or skip lunch. It seems what you're talking about falls within the boundaries of legitimate diversity of styles.

Rather and adapting your style to his lead, it seems he should be following your model.


At some point, pretending you're working can be harder than the work itself. I found a co-worker sitting in a chair and not the toilet in the bathroom and reading a newspaper. He has his own office.

Make sure you understand what your supervisor wants and whether or not he/she feels like you are meeting those expectations. Unfortunately, they build up a general opinion and rarely have some objective and quantifiable account of your work. If they have to lay people off, they won't target the employees that make their job easier.


It's easy to appear busy at the workstation staring at the PC everyday (like Alt-Tab'bing to a spreadsheet when your boss passes by), but that's bad practice, especially if you aren't finishing your work in time.

I've seen quite a few people at work not doing a lot of stuff all day long and jumping into their seats once the boss arrives for work in my previous workplace, but I'm not sure if that applies to all companies.

However, if you want a better chance at promotion or a pay rise, here are a few things you could do.

Finish your given work on time, or faster.

Finishing your work on time helps to make it clear that you are interested in working for your company and that you are able to handle the workload easily.

Faster is sometimes better (although not always), but in some companies they might give you fresh work to do without recognizing your ability to work harder than others.

However, that doesn't mean your work should be full of errors. Rely on the saying - "Do it once, do it good!".

Have a break

Taking breaks helps the mind break away from the monotony that is the constant usage of computers and documents. Make it like a reward for working hard for that past hour or two, breathe some fresh air, drink a cup of tea or do whatever you like (just don't breach company rules).

Giving suggestions to improve workflow

If your company allows this, though (and also if you have stayed at the company long enough). Many companies are sufficient enough to handle themselves and may list you as a vigilante that is out to get the company if you're a new hire trying to change things around the company. You might end up getting burnt on a stake.

Make sure you're visible in the workplace

Hey, nobody is going to notice what you're doing for the company if you're going to hide in that pigeon hole everyday without talking to anyone, right?

Get up and talk to people, communicate, try not to make too many enemies and you might be well on your way to be noticed by the supervisor. Remember, you might want to suck up to only the supervisor, but the angry mob forming below you is going to drag you back down. Be nice.


You shouldn't change your work habits if they don't impact your work negatively. As long as you feel comfortable with them and get your assignments done on time, they shouldn't be an issue. If you forced yourself into taking fewer breaks, it could lead to stress, and it would make you focus on how uncomfortable you feel, rather than taking your mind off those issues so you can concentrate on the task at hand. If with time you find out that your break habits are changing, those should come organically, rather than being forced upon you by someone else or yourself.

All in all, have breaks as you are comfortable, as long as you are getting your work done on time and not "slacking off" for an extended period of time at once (which can be viewed negatively).


I work at home, and I sit a lot. I am having pain in my feet that some people describe as gout and others indicate are due to atrophy in leg muscles. Sitting for long periods is widely viewed as unhealthy. CDC Study

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