8 Tips on How to Deal with a Lazy Coworker

how to deal with a lazy coworker

Lazy coworkers. Those who make the most excuses, fail to meet deadlines, take longer lunch breaks, and refuse to put in extra hours to get things done. Sometimes, they’ll even drag you into their mess.

Working with such colleagues is a reality that you can never get used to. They can reduce the team’s overall performance and derail projects. 

Covering for a coworker when they’re not available plays into the teamwork spirit. However, these favors should only happen once in a while, not for every flimsy excuse.

It even gets worse when they have to work remotely without physical supervision. The team may not beat deadlines when they fail to collaborate and execute their share of the task.

According to a study conducted by the Queens University of Charlotte, almost three of four employers consider collaboration and team to be critical. However, 39% of responding employees say their colleagues don’t collaborate well enough.

So, how do you deal with a lazy coworker? That’s the million-dollar question. 

The truth is, it’s not easy. However, with the right approach, you can handle them and make sure their shortcomings don’t affect your work life. Then, if you’re lucky, you can get them to turn a new leaf.

This article will cover tips that show you how to deal with a lazy coworker and prevent them from bringing down the entire team.

How To Deal With A Lazy Coworker: Make Sure You Are Not Overreacting

Don’t be too quick to judge a colleague. Sometimes, missing one or two deadlines or leaving early does not necessarily mean they’re intentionally avoiding work. Instead, they could be dealing with personal issues, and the lapse might be temporary.

They could have cleared their tasks, freeing up extra lunch hours and allowing them to head home in time. Also, they may have other obligations. Being out of the office doesn’t mean they’re not working. Some assignments may require their presence off-site.

Talk to them professionally to understand the situation.

Also, if their behavior doesn’t directly affect you and impede your work, it’s probably not your problem to solve. 

You should only focus on resolving the issue if:

●       Their carefree behavior prevents you from executing tasks on time.

●       You have to cover for them constantly.

●       Their absence threatens a project’s completion.

●       They don’t have good enough reasons to be late and leave early.

●       They keep repeating the behavior.

Tip 1: Learn to Care Less

It’s easy to feel a sense of unfairness when you see the unjust things a lazy coworker gets away with. This could lead to job dissatisfaction and frustration.

Wasting that sort of time and energy on annoyance and anger will ultimately affect your work performance. You could end up achieving as little as the lazy fellow.

The first step to take is to make sure you don’t let them affect you. Next, you must focus on maintaining a good work ethic rather than allowing their behavior to get to you.

Don’t tie your ability to do your job to someone else’s attitude. Instead, do your best to stay committed, especially with tasks that don’t require their input.

On the other hand, it’s okay to overlook their laziness when it doesn’t make a difference.

While this advice might sound like you’re also letting them off the hook, see it as maintaining your reputation. 

This comes in handy in situations where you find yourself close to a deadline. You can’t afford to let anything distract you. If you have to deal with them, let it be after completing the project.

Tip 2: Talk to Them Directly

If your colleague’s laziness is directly affecting your work, speak to them. As we mentioned, you have to talk about things professionally. 

Firstly, ask them what’s going on and why they’re often late. Then, try to see things their way.

If the story remains the same, talk to them politely about how their negligence affects your productivity at work and the dangers of not meeting a deadline.

Sometimes, these workers don’t understand the impact of their behavior. Putting them straight could get them to turn the corner.

Make sure you’re direct in a polite way. You can be assertive without sounding harsh or annoyed. Also, don’t attempt to send your message across through a joke or sarcastic comment.

Tip 3: Learn to Say “No”

If you’ve helped your colleague out more times than you can count, it’s high time you started saying “No.” 

They may not realize they are falling into a pattern of always asking for favors and how it affects your job.

Your willingness to always help out could be the cause of the problem. They might be taking advantage of your kindness without knowing it. 

Boldly, let them know you can no longer handle two jobs. Explain to them that you already have a full plate, and helping them out is costing you.

You can also offer a solution while you’re at it. For example, suggest that they manage their schedule better and talk to their superior about taking time off. 

Tip 4: Collaborate with Others to Get Things Done

Things can easily fall apart if one person in a team fails to do their part. A Clear Company survey reported that 97% of employers and employees believe that misalignment within a team affects a project’s or task’s outcome.

If the lazy coworker is disregarding their role in a team project, you can get other group members to work together and execute their part of the job. This way, their negligence won’t slow things down or halt the project.

The feeling of being left out and unneeded could force the lazy colleague to reassess their behavior.

Tip 5: Inform Your Superiors Without Tattling

If the coworker is the only one with the skills and expertise to get a project moving at some point, then your hands are tied. You have to inform your superiors. However, you don’t have to sound like you’re complaining. You’ll look bad.

Speak to the current situation. Let your supervisor know how your colleague’s inaction is affecting the project. That’s all. Don’t go on about other things they do unrelated to the main problem. Your boss should know the best way to manage them.

However, it’s a different thing if your superior asks you to review your coworker’s behavior. In this case, you should be honest and let them know what’s going on. However, make sure you fully understand your colleague’s situation before letting your boss know what you think.

Tip 6: Set up Regular Meetings to Talk About Work Progress

If you’re working on something together, setting up meetings to discuss progress reports could motivate them to put in the work.

A 2015 uSamp survey commissioned by Ring Central found that 97% of employees believe communications affect daily tasks.

This method helps all the more in a remote work environment. Thanks to collaborative tools, you can get the team together to look at your workflow and deliberate on how to move things forward. 

You can encourage each other and set new deadlines to amp up the pressure on the coworker to finish their tasks.

Tip 7: Don’t Allow Your Lazy Colleague Influence You

Lazy employees have perfected the art of avoiding work. They seem to be the ones enjoying their time and having the most fun. 

Seeing how much they get away with could tempt you to slack off work a little. Now, it’s easy to get sucked into that way of life and lose focus on your job.

You might end up realizing how far you’ve gone when it’s too late.

Always keep your distance. Let them know you’re busy whenever they come over for a chat during work hours. Decline invites to events that will keep you out too late. Moreover, remove yourself from lunch conversations that will eat into your work schedule.

Tip 8: Don’t Work with Them

If you have a say, avoid working on the same project with your lazy coworker. Instead, suggest to your boss that you’d rather work with a different team. Point out instances where they failed to do their part and nearly derailed a project.


Dealing with lazy coworkers is not easy. However, you have to do it for the sake of the job. If you can understand them better and get them to change, your workspace will become more fun. According to a Gusto survey, 54% of employees agreed that a great team spirit made them keep a job longer.

Remember to always take the first approach of putting yourself in your colleague’s shoes. Make an effort to understand the situation and clear every reasonable explanation for their behavior. Then, start taking measures when you confirm that they’re intentionally lazy. You can still find that work-life balance and remain effective when working with lazy employees.

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