Work Friends are One of the Keys to Being Happy at Work

Posted by in Career Advice

Typically speaking, your social life and your work life are very separate spheres. Indeed, many companies or organizations expect “employees to leave their personal lives at the door when they come to work,” so that it does not interfere with business. So, what about work friends? Is it okay to be social at work? Well, yes, for many reasons, both for personal and company-wide benefits. And yet the concept of work friends seems to be fading. Here’s the rundown:

There are a few reasons why our work buddies seem to be disappearing, the first of which is remote work. With less people in the office, it can be hard to establish meaningful connections among your peers. This is even true for hybrid workweeks; seeing people two or three times a week can get in the way of inter-office relationships. Another aspect of the modern workplace that can interfere with friendships is the reliance on digital communication. If we’re being honest, it is much easier to send an email or a Microsoft Teams message to a coworker downstairs as opposed to taking the elevator. But this lack of face-to-face communication can make it hard to make friends in your workplace. Last but not least, some employers may not see the value of a friendly workplace. To be fair, there may be a negative association here: a couple of workers standing around the watercooler chatting about their weekends doesn’t inspire a vision of productive behavior.

But do employers have the right idea? Maybe not…

A happy workplace is a productive workplace.. A study done by the Social Market Foundation found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees in the workplace. Beyond this, office friendships lead to a more engaged team, and “highly engaged teams are 21% more profitable for the company,” according to Wellsteps. Your team isn’t going to be “highly engaged” without some level of friendship, and so office buddies are beneficial for you and your company or organization alike. And yet, “only three in 10 employees strongly agree they have a best friend at work,” as per the Harvard Business Review. Of course, having a good friend at work doesn't mean you should forgo your duties as an employee; those bolstered statistics mentioned above aren’t due to spending worktime chatting about the new season of American Idol. A good work friend will inspire more than friendly banter, and drive you to be the best worker possible.

Another benefit of having friends at work is the tight-knit community that can come about as a result.  When workplaces have a sort of familial nature to them, retention and job satisfaction increase, again as per the Harvard Business Review. Not only does this mean your company or organization will benefit from long personal careers, but your work friendship lasts longer too! A high retention rate benefits everybody, and your office won’t be filled with strange faces every quarter. Meaningful relationships in the workplace can serve to elevate the company at both an individual and overall level.

Does your employer ask you to check your social life at the door? Well, they may have the wrong idea. Friendships in the workplace are immensely beneficial for all parties. Not only can you experience higher productivity and job satisfaction, but your company or organization will benefit just as much from high retention rates and profit. 


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