How To Deal With Lazy Coworkers

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Woman asleep at desk

Adobe Stock / nandyphotos

Melissa Ricker
Melissa Ricker10
July 24, 2024 at 2:29PM UTC
We've all been there. You're busy at work frantically trying to make your deadline while your coworker chats with every person who walks by. If there aren't any people walking by, they're either surfing the web or making personal calls. You often wonder how they still have a job. We've all been there because these lazy coworkers exist in every office setting. 
Tattling and complaining won't get you anywhere, but I do have a few tips that you can use to deal with those lazy coworkers so they don't drive you out of your mind!
1. Don't lose your focus.
It can be tempting to let those lazy coworkers interrupt your focus, but avoid that pitfall. Focus instead on doing your job well. Tune them out and let go of the frustration and annoyance. It isn't worth your time or energy. If you do your job well, eventually you will be recognized and hopefully promoted away from those lazy counterparts.
2. Don't let them affect your attitude.
You may be thinking, "But it isn't fair." As you've probably heard a million times ... life isn't always fair. You can choose to focus on the unfairness and make yourself feel bad, but that won't change the situation. If you choose to spend your time and energy being irritated or angry, your own work performance will begin to decline. Decide who you want to be at work, and then focus your energy on positive things. Be the best that YOU can be. Don't worry about what others do with their time.
3. Don't do their work.
It is not your job to babysit or pick up your lazy coworker's tasks... even if they are on the same team. Remind them of tasks and deadlines, but resist the urge to perform the work.  By doing so, you will be enabling and encouraging the behavior. While you should never tattle, if a lazy coworker is affecting your success at work this is the time to speak up. There is a right way to bring up the issue to your boss without coming across as a gossip or tattler. For example, "I am at a point where I cannot take the project any further because I am waiting on Sue to finish her part. What can we do about this?"
4. Communicate with your coworker.
Your lazy coworkers may not be lazy at all. In fact, perhaps they are unclear or confused. Maybe they are overwhelmed or don't know how to do their job. It could be that they had a recent family emergency or personal issue that is distracting them. So instead of jumping to conclusions, try asking your coworker what is going on. Be clear on deadlines and the goals of the team. Maybe there is a way you can help remedy the situation moving forward. Sometimes by addressing the situation in a professional matter, it can actually alter the person's behavior. 
Working with a lazy coworker can cause extreme frustration if you let it. When someone doesn't pull his or her own weight in the office, it may cause a lot of built up emotions. But it doesn't have to end that way. Everyone -at some point - will have to deal with lazy coworkers. If you follow these tips, you'll remain professional and be able to handle the situation in a healthy way. 
Melissa is a success coach to high-achieving women. She helps women crush through their personal and career goals through a step-by-step formula for success. Check out her blog at


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