Monday 18 December marks the day when employees in Britain admit to officially downing tools as the festive period gets well and truly underway, new research has shown.

According to data compiled HR analytics company Peakon, the last couple of days spent in the office before Christmas are very rarely productive. Some 42% of the 2,000 people surveyed admitted dedicating time to do their Christmas shopping online, while 35% were focussed on planning Christmas day and 30% were already making plans for their Christmas break.

With the festive spirit in full swing, 16% of respondents admitted indulging in a few Christmas drinks on the job, while one in 10 take longer lunches and 17% leave work earlier than usual and 4% calling in sick altogether.

Asked what were the reasons behind slacking off, one in five said they were simply 'too excited' to focus on their job, while 32% blamed the amount of planning they had to ahead of Christmas Day and 21% said they felt "burnt-out" after a year at work.

A third of the respondents, however, indicated it was simply the case that business has slowed down and there was less work to do at this time of year.

"I think it's fair to say that the great Christmas 'click-off' is well and truly a thing, with a silent agreement in most workplaces that productivity takes a hit at this time of year," said Dan Rogers, co-founder of Peakon.

"As a business, the worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand, it pays to try to understand what is going on.

"Acknowledge that this dip is inevitable and plan around it. Think of it as good time to regroup as a team, gather feedback on the progress you have made during the year, and plan how you will continue in January."

Some employers have adopted a new approach to tackle the issue. Online marketing agency Distilled, for example, has offered employees Christmas shopping hours, whereby workers can take Friday afternoon off if they make up the time during the week.

"A bit of distraction is inevitable at this time of year," said Distilled's CEO Will Critchlow.

"We don't try to fight it too much - with flexibility for shopping, the odd long lunch, and generally trusting the team to plan their time.

"We might take a bit of a hit at this time of the year, but we trust our team and we know it balances out over time."

A survey released earlier this week found IT issues were such a key stumbling block to British business productivity that, if it wasn't for them, most Britons could have wrapped up work two weeks before Christmas.

On average, office workers are left waiting for 2.03 hours each week – wasting the equivalent of 12.8 working days over the course of 2017, which means employees working in an IT issue-free environment would have reached the same yearly productivity level as the average office worker by 11 December.

Britain's productivity is lagging so far that of some of their European counterparts that the average British worker has to work until Friday afternoon to produce what a German employee would produce in four days.

Workers in the US, meanwhile, would have to work an extra hour but would still produce more than the average Briton working on a Monday-Friday basis and the same applies to French workers.