That sucks: Energy vampires and vampire tasks are the new workplace terrors to know about

By March 22, 2024For Talent

Garlic and rosary beads at the ready: Popular culture reveres (and fears) a vampire. 

From Bela Lugosi’s genre-defining turn as Dracula in the 1931 movie of the same name, to the 1980s Brat Pack classic The Lost Boys, in the 1990s vampires saw even more supernatural success across seven seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer as well as in the film adaptation of Anne Rice’s horror novel, Interview with the Vampire.

colin robinson

Colin Robinson stakes out his next victim

With plenty more book and film fodder in between to get your teeth into (hello, Twilight), more recently still has been the vampire mockumentary film and subsequent TV series What We Do in the Shadows.

Featuring four vampires living together on Staten Island, WWDITS introduced something new to the genre in the form of energy vampire Colin Robinson.

Robinson’s power comes from being so insidiously boring that he’s able to drain the energy of those around him. When he worked in an office, he engaged his colleagues in ultra-tedious conversations in order to feed off them, and at night, trolled people online in order to do the same. 

Not a traditional blood sucker, no, but while it’s (probably) unlikely you’ve ever met a Gary Oldman in Dracula-type vampire, you’re very likely to have encountered an energy (aka emotional or psychic) vampire a time or three.

Dealing with an energy vampire 

They’re the kind of people who make you feel depressed and drained. Being around them leaves you wiped out, and you absolutely dread having to interact with them.

While it’s easy enough to avoid energy vampires in your personal life, what happens when you’re dealing with one at work? 

Firstly, know the signs. An office vampire is the sort to constantly moan and complain, and will aim to make their problems yours. They often seek out and cause drama, and rarely take accountability for their actions.

They may also chip away at your confidence in your abilities by questioning or second guessing you, all to make themselves look better. All-in-all, they bring you, and everyone around you, down.

If you recognise any of these behaviours, you might be dealing with an office vampire. Getting out the garlic and holy water won’t be enough, and polite society doesn’t look too keenly on silver-tipped stakes, either.

So what should you do? It’s a tricky one, because you can’t simply cut your colleagues out of your life––a fact energy vampires thrive on. What you can do is be aware of how they behave, and moderate your own behaviour to account for it. 

colin robinson

For example, if they’re constantly pressuring you to take on their tasks, be explicit about what you have on your plate. A simple, “I am working to capacity right now so I can’t help you this time”, without offering any qualifying information they can seize on, might be one to keep in your back pocket.

If they make a beeline for you every lunchtime, take yourself out of the office for an hour––get some errands done, read your book, or have a quiet solo lunch where you can decompress and prepare for the afternoon.

Another tactic is to aim to deal with them remotely as much as possible. It’s far harder to manipulate someone through a computer screen, after all.

Beware vampire tasks

But, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (cooler), new research from Owl Labs has identified what it calls “vampire tasks”. These are what it says on the tin: the sort of repetitive or tedious activities that sap your energy, dim your focus and make you really resent your job.

Unsurprisingly, it’s those boring admin tasks that suck up so much time. A report from Brightpearl found that the average person spends at least 21 hours per week doing admin at work, and as a result, nearly 40% are “overwhelmed” by the amount of admin responsibilities they have to tackle.

Think clearing your inbox, and replying to endless emails instead of actually getting your core work done. “That constant influx of administrative tasks can hurt productivity the most,” says Cecily Motley, who is the co-founder of Harriet, an AI-powered workplace tool.

Motley told CNBC that “It’s those dull, time-sucking tasks like scheduling meetings and responding to emails that drain your energy and take time away from deep-focus work or higher-value projects”.

Most of us would love to hand those sorts of jobs off to someone else, but that doesn’t fly in the modern workplace. What you can do instead is introduce a productivity tool stack into your working life. 

This could be as simple as filtering emails in your inbox so you don’t get overwhelmed and can tackle them in order of importance a couple of times a day. You can block out times in a shared calendar so that colleagues don’t interrupt you during those periods, or you can set up simple spreadsheets to keep track of task and project flows.

And you can take this further: a huge range of productivity tools are available, including project management platforms such as Trello and You can silence notifications so you’re not endlessly distracted by Slack or other messaging tools, and you can employ apps that block your ability to look at distracting social media.

It’s fair to say that most people, throughout their working lives, will encounter a lot of vampire tasks, as well as colleagues who they find utterly draining. That’s working life, and while you’ll never be able to control all of it, putting boundaries and improvements in place will help you feel more in control the next time someone swoops in to suck away your joy.

Want more like this?

If you enjoyed what you’ve read above, and would like to get original work-related content on your own website, plus the chance to maximise your revenue, contact us now.

Author Kirstie McDermott

More posts by Kirstie McDermott

Leave a Reply