A Harvard Business Review study says 'long-hours posturing' is unnecessary for high-quality work. Picture: THINKSTOCK
None - A Harvard Business Review study says 'long-hours posturing' is unnecessary for high-quality work. Picture: THINKSTOCK

WHERE’s Lloyd? This is a question for the management consulting industry, prompted by research into men who bunk and yet still appear to be partner-track workaholics.

"Lloyd" is the pseudonym for a senior manager at an anonymised "top strategy consulting firm" studied by Erin Reid, an assistant professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

The way Ms Reid tells it on the Harvard Business Review website, Lloyd has mastered the art of seeming to put in the 60-80-hour weeks demanded by the firm’s always-on culture, while actually spending a lot of time skiing — as in hitting the slopes every day of the previous working week.

Such a life was possible because of a combination of local clients, remote electronic working and a brazen unwillingness to disclose his whereabouts to colleagues. "No one knows where I am," he explained.

Everyone knows a Lloyd. Their ability to slink off is both appalling and instructive. They show how being stealthy about work-life balance can be a better policy than openly seeking ways to put work back in its box.

I personally had a good experience scaling down to a four-day week for a few years for childcare reasons, but flexible working requests can also put a target on your back.

I did wonder whether Lloyd the strategic slacker might yet come a cropper, however — by someone figuring out his identity from the vivid ski detail. But Reid reassures me the snow stuff was a smokescreen for another stealthily pursued hobby.

Either way, I suspect the consultancy wouldn’t care. Presented with her broader findings — published in Organization Science — it shrugged off the conclusion that all the long-hours posturing was unnecessary for high-quality work, she says.

© 2015 The Financial Times Limited.

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