Swinging the Lead
An idiom that has some merits perhaps? It describes somebody who avoids work by giving the appearance of toiling but not actually doing anything significant. Its origins are in naval history when the leadsman would calculate the depth of water around the coastline by dropping a lead weight attached to a measuring line.
Many a sailor feigned illness to secure this, the easiest of onboard jobs.
A year ago, this month, a board member told me that he liked staff to have pencil tossing time. He added “Laura, sometimes people just need time and space to think. I was amused by this linked-metaphor.
The comment has been reinforced recently by Michael Neill in his book entitled “You Can Have What you Want”