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Being Lazy at Work Is Actually Good, Says Study

Even ant colonies have some slackers who do the ant equivalent of scroll through Facebook all day long.

av Helen Donahue
2016 03 29, 9:00am

Flickr photo via Flickr user Laurence Simon

Flickr photo via Flickr user Laurence Simon

Read: The Future of Work Is Free Snacks, No Benefits, and Looking for Jobs from Your Bed

While employers might try to avoid hiring from the influx of "lazy" snapchatting millennials flooding the job market, a new study suggests lazy workers might not be entirely worthless.

That study comes via an NPR piece about the phenomenon of people who "don't seem to do much work at work"—the folks who browse Facebook, take multiple long bathroom breaks, or simply stare off into space rather than whatever task is providing them with their hourly wage. Some people interviewed by NPR talked about how it was important to think things through sometimes rather than merely blaze through assignments; others looked back on when they learned lessons by watching slow workers, but the truly interesting fact is that laziness isn't unique to humans.

In a new study published in February's issue of Nature, agriculture professor Eisuke Hasegawa found that widespread laziness in ant colonies can actually make the group stronger—the lazy ants act as reinforcements when the hard-working ants get burnt out.

The study found that 20 to 30 percent of ants in a colony spend their time grooming or just lying around, but under pressure they get shit done—a phenomenon mirrored by workplace procrastinators. So go ahead, take a longer lunch, go down a Reddit rabbit hole, or check up on your Tinder profile—it might just be the cure to your already boring job or essential to office camaraderie.