Science Says Your Lazy Coworkers Might Be More Useful Than You Think

Coworkers! We all have ‘em. Some are better than others. Some are worse. And some are so irrefutably, outwardly lazy that they make you want to pick up the nearest bag of Cheez-its and rain them upon their desk as they scroll thru Instagram, whisper-screaming, “Why are you so goddamn useless?!”

Before you make your beautiful fantasy a reality, consider this sobering bit of news: lazy coworkers are actually useful. According to a study in Nature, which looked at laziness in ant colonies, the colonies with the most “lazy” worker ants –you know, the ones on Facebook all the time, always taking personal calls and never actually at their desks – proved to be more resilient than most.

The author of the study Eisuke Hasegawa, noted that between “20 and 30 percent of ants don’t do anything you could call work,” but their output is often more valuable than that of the frenzied, crazy ants who run around trying to Have It All.

“In the short term, lazy ants are inefficient, but in the long term, they are not,” he says. Eventually, as the workload increases, lazy ants will respond to a stimulus to work.

The same can be said for humans — that inefficiencies are like backup power or a spare factory line, Hasegawa says. That is, it’s a backup if lazy people, like ants, can be coaxed into working, and he acknowledges some people are just plain lazy.

If you’re a lazy coworker, reading this when you should be filling out an expense report, take a long look at your habits, and assess whether or not you’re actually useful or are merely laboring under the elaborate fiction that you are. If you’re one of the others – the busy, the frantic, the harried, just trying to do a good job – walk into your boss’s office and tell them you’re taking next week off. If the lazy ones are actually more resilient, let them have it! You deserve a break, girl. Take it.