For years, studies have said that smokers are less productive, take more time off work, and take more sick days than nonsmokers. Now a new report from OnePoll.com says that cumulated cigarette breaks over a smoker’s lifetime mean that smokers get away with working a whole year less than their diligent, perfect, reliable nonsmoking counterparts. We call bullshit on this study.
By dividing people into “smokers” and “nonsmokers,” you’re making one group bad and the other group (you know, the one that works more) good. But are nonsmokers really all sitting at their desks practicing absolute productivity as beacons of shining light of all that is work-holy? What about the fact that nicotine is a stimulant, thereby inducing smokers to work faster, more efficiently, and perhaps even better than their sluggish co-workers? What about the fact that we’re all SUPPOSED to take breaks for productivity anyway? And what about…
1. Facebook. Come on. Smokers and nonsmokers do this, but we bet nonsmokers do it more.
2. Breathing. See above.
3. Complaining about how your cigarette-smoking coworkers work a whole year less than you do. Wah!
4. Doing “acceptable” things like “shopping” or “yoga,” or “going to lunch” during breaks, as opposed to simply standing less than a foot outside the office and puffing for two solid minutes before returning to your cubicles to work, glowy and all abuzz.
5. Sleeping. Now, smoker or not, you would be way more productive if you didn’t sleep. Imagine all the extra hours of paper-pushing and corporate douchebaggery you could get in! Then again, if you really don’t sleep, or eat, or if you’re a smoker, smoke, you might go a little…crazy. Certifiably. Which in the end is bad for productivity. What do you want from us, business world?
Let’s break it down: A smoker who’s trying to quit, running rampant through the office on Skittles searches and chewing through their own pens, or fingernails, is far less productive than a smoker who simply takes four little 15-minute breaks throughout the day to smoke.
As for the nonsmoker, well, you may not know exactly what they’re doing to avoid working throughout the day, but you can be pretty sure they’re doing something. And while smokers are focused on that one little thing they have to do to the exclusion of others, we just betcha that the majority of nonsmokers flip from non-work distraction to non-work distraction as their unfocused minds allow — and they allow for a lot.
Full disclosure: We don’t even smoke. (We don’t!) But we’ve worked with people who do, and they’re pretty bad-ass…when not blowing smoke in our faces.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 29, 2010