Benefits of Office Friendships

Research shows that we are happier in our jobs when we have friendships with co-workers. Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. The researchers found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%.

Camaraderie is more than just having fun. It is also about creating a common sense of purpose and the mentality that we are in “it” together. Friends at work also form a strong social support network for each other, both personally and professionally. We all want a culture where we feel like we are part of a family. We want collaboration, trust, personal relationships, fun, and support. Fostering friendships takes proactive effort, so don’t wait for your manager to organize something for you. Take control and invite your teammates for bowling/painting/yoga/happy hour/dinner after work.

Cheerful happy woman standing together with her colleagues

A “Relationships at Work” study by LinkedIn found that 46% of work professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness and the majority agree that “all work and no play” is a recipe for disaster.

Sympathetic allies can help each other deal with the inevitable workplace ups and downs in a more measured and positive way. They can help us through a difficult situation. They are there to brainstorm ideas or simply offer friendly support when we are having a “not-so-great” day.

It doesn’t cost much and you don’t have to get an official approval to start friendships at work. We all work very hard to bring our company to the next level, so creating fun and a little weirdness while pursuing growth and learning is a great way to build a positive team and family spirit.

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How to Make Friends at Work 101

Meaningful connections are vital to our psychological and physical well-being. We’re fundamentally social creatures. When we feel isolated or excluded, that experience is painful and psychologically taxing, damaging our ability to focus. When we have friends at work, we have more resources for executing our work, which allows us to achieve at a higher level and feel happier in our everyday life.

Psychologist and author Ron Friedman explains in his book “The Best Place To Work” that there are three ingredients necessary for friendship — physical proximity, familiarity, and similarity — that you could easily find in the workplace.

So where do we start?

Take initiative

Sometimes the best way to get to know a co-worker is by taking initiative. Be open to introducing yourself to new faces you see around the office, and don’t be afraid to strike up small talk. Get your foot in the door with work events. For example, if your company holds an event, it’s a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues in a more informal setting.

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Keep most interactions positive

While sharing negative experiences can sometimes help bond and strengthen a relationship, it’s best to start with a foundation of shared positive experiences instead. Offset sharing of work-related negativity and stress with positive interactions. Being surrounded by negativity is depressing, so put a smile on your face and try to focus on the good things at work and in life in general.

Open up about non-work topics

The more people talk about non-work topics, the more likely they are to be friends. Rather than droning on about your boss or an impossible deadline, consider talking about your plans to go kayaking this weekend, meeting your partner’s family, or your newest hobby.

Look for similarities

Similarity is a basic building block of friendship. For example, the health challenge allowed many people that are into a healthy lifestyle to bond and create new friendships.  If you watch the same shows, love pets or raise kids around the same age, chances are you will become friends.

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider.

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