A quarter of the British workforce uses a pastime as a way of winding down during breaks in the working day, with 96 percent of Brits enjoying some form of hobby, according to a study by research group Mori and the ISP Lycos UK.

But the popularity of PCs didn’t stop good old-fashioned reading from topping the poll, with 51 percent picking a good book as the best way of escaping from the stresses of the daily grind.

"People will always enjoy reading as a way of escaping from their work and daily life and being able to read straight off their monitors means people have everything they need right in front of them," said a spokesperson at E-books, the electronic book publisher.

For some, the line between work and play was not so clear. Many people preferred to use their PC for leisure activities. These included everything from building websites to playing games.

"The computer has become a major form of entertainment. Many people don't have the time to leave the office and their computer is their only link to the outside world," said a spokesperson at the Consumers Association.

"Engaging in hobbies and forward planning holidays is an essential release mechanism in today's frenetic environment," said Carole Spiers chair of the International Stress Management Association UK. "People often find it difficult to unwind and expressing themselves through pastimes is essential to good mental and physical health."

Nearly a quarter of workers never even take a lunch break, remaining tied to their desks throughout lunchtime, the study revealed. And a third even chose to eat lunch while using their PCs.

"This research has uncovered some worrying aspects about our society – namely the pressures people are under at work," said Alnoor Samji partner at MORI. "However, despite the various frustrations the British have a clear enthusiasm for their passions."