8 Signs of a Lazy Coworker to Look Out For

Author: Karolina Matyska

Unfortunately, in every company, there is someone who seems somewhat out of it, unfocused, and not caring about the work. These behaviors, among others, are some of the signs of a lazy coworker

One element is important to remember: sometimes laziness can be a symptom of a lack of motivation.

We’re about to list a series of characteristics and habits to look out for in a colleague, but before acting on it or taking the issue to your superiors, you need to learn how to deal with a lazy coworker

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What are lazy coworkers?

A lazy coworker might be someone who is hurting your work or isn’t contributing to a healthy work environment. Probably, a fellow colleague might be quicker in spotting a lazy worker than a manager. 

Usually, a lazy coworker presents excuses for everything, fails deadlines, and misses meetings. They tend to self-isolate and be aloof.

They don’t spend too much time at their desks, take several breaks, and there is usually an aura of stress around them. Usually, this kind of worker is someone who doesn’t accept criticism easily and can be quite annoying. Sometimes even rude.

Know how to identify lazy coworkers, but remember that the reasons for their behavior can vary depending on each case.

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lazy worker – 8 signs

8 signs of a lazy coworker

1. They seem to always be away from their desks

It’s not easy to spend an entire day chained to a desk doing nothing. At least for most people.

So it’s probable that a lazier coworker, wanting to avoid tasks and responsibilities, spends more time away from his desk than at it.

This can mean that they’re trying to look busy, that they’re being needed elsewhere, or that they want to avoid looking bored.

In these times of remote work, if their status or calendar doesn’t indicate otherwise, being away from a desk can correspond to them taking too long to reply to a message.

2. They seem to be always under stress

In this case, stress probably comes from guilt, not from being overwhelmed with work. They worry that other workers will highlight their laziness, in comparison.

They take extra steps pretending they are proactive and doing the work. It eventually turns into a facade they have to feel they have to keep, thus increasing stress levels.

In some cases, this is a sign of stress at work. So, approach your coworker and try to understand if he/she needs your help.

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3. They’re always late and leave as early as possible

An appointment or a family emergency always makes them arrive later or leave earlier.

We all know the story of the boy who cried wolf, and obviously, nobody wants this lesson to apply to anyone, nor do we want our coworkers to have constant personal problems. Usually, this type of worker presents very valid reasons for their lateness. 

However, it can be frustrating dealing with this, especially if you also witness other lazy behaviors from this person. This person is almost entering a vicious cycle. Probably they’re also lazy at home.

4. They take extra long breaks

Procrastination can easily turn into boredom, and idle hands go and turn mandatory breaks into long work pauses.

A lazy coworker doesn’t really want to come back to work after they’re presented with an opportunity to not do it. Obviously, this is one behavior in a long list of signs that point to a lazy coworker.

We all need that longer break sometimes. 

Do you want some help to overcome procrastination? Read our article and find useful strategies and tips.

someone being lazy

5. They keep complaining about being busy

Another sign that eventually becomes a two-way street is the “I’m very busy” excuse. Everyone is busy. That’s a practically guaranteed fact.

Somehow the lazy coworker seems to tell everyone about how busy they are before anyone even asks. They’re those employees that constantly complain about the workload.

6. They keep delegating their work to others

Lazy coworkers or employees will avoid working for as long as possible. They’ll always try and delegate work to others instead of stepping up to do it themselves.

We can say that some manipulation is involved as they deflect as much of the workload onto others as possible.

7. They can’t keep up with a deadline or keep postponing tasks

Deadlines exist for a reason and serve as motivation and performance tools. One sign of laziness is not being able to keep up with the deadlines, along with the rest of the team, or postponing tasks without a solid or valid reason.

It’s possible that this worker doesn’t want to follow timelines and can’t handle time-sensitive tasks. This can be laziness combined with other factors that need to be considered.

lazy coworker

8. Their body language reveals laziness

Sometimes it gets obvious, and you can tell when someone is being lazy at work. Maybe they’re always slouching, slumped over, have their feet up on the desk, look generally uninterested or bored…

They’re not “bodily” focused, so to speak, and they walk around, are always on their phone, and go to the bathroom a lot. These are body language telling tales. 


How to deal with lazy coworkers? 

Dealing with a lazy coworker is not easy. If their attitude towards work doesn’t affect you, it’s best to ignore them. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, we advise you to read our blog about dealing with lazy coworkers.

Should I report a lazy coworker?

Reporting a coworker right away should not be your solution. Keep in mind that doing so will hurt your reputation and how your colleagues and superiors look at you.

Start by reaching out to this colleague privately and follow the plan set up in our guide that explains to you how to deal with lazy workmates.

How to deal with lazy employees?

To be a good manager, it’s fundamental to be careful when dealing with lazy employees.

You’ll want to handle the situation with great tact and care and motivate that person to have a better job performance without compromising the position and work of the rest of the team.

When dealing with a lazy employee, before, during, and after establishing a recovery plan, be sure you’re giving the employee feedback regularly. Sometimes they’re just a bad fit for the business culture, and there is a solution for that too. 


The truth is that there are bad apples everywhere, so in every team, the likelihood of encountering one or two coworkers. There is some skill to pretending to work, and lazy coworkers are getting better and better at it.

However, there are also consequences to these workers’ actions. Don’t let your frustration get the best of you, and remember to maintain a sense of professionalism.

A lazy coworker can drag the whole team down the procrastination hole. If this laziness is hurting the team’s performance and is beyond a lack of motivation on their part, your superiors and human resources will take action.

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