Friendship in the Workplace: Some Tips

By: Marie Donlon

Nothing can make your workday go faster than being bffs with a coworker. Having a trusted ally in the workplace can mean all the difference between enjoying the thought of going to work each day and dreading it. Working side-by-side with a similarly-minded person can also have many benefits for your employer. Being comfortable with the people you work with may give you the freedom to be more creative. It can also improve productivity. Some studies even suggest that those who have a workplace best friend are much happier and healthier in the workplace and at least seven times likelier to be engaged in their work. Also, they have reportedly higher levels of job satisfaction and retention than people who don’t have friends in the workplace.

But the flipside of that coin is when that friendship impedes productivity, or worse still, when that relationship sours.

This particular type of relationship is one that blurs the line between work and personal life because, as it happens, this relationship flirts with both areas of your life. As such, it is different from most of the other relationships in your life. Consider this: if forced to choose between that relationship and financial security, which would you choose? According to research, most of us would choose our job.

Because workplace friendships are like no other, they require a code of conduct not often necessary for traditional relationships.

Following are some tips to consider when navigating relationships in the workplace.

Distraction

Best case scenario, your workplace friendship is exactly what it should be: you take breaks together, maybe eat lunch together and collaborate on projects or other functions together. Sure you laugh a lot during these encounters, but you still manage to complete workplace tasks on schedule. In fact, you enjoy working together so much that you look forward to coming into the office each day, maybe inspired to create by those intervals during the day where you have a chance to exchange ideas or to simply gab.

Unfortunately, there are other likelier scenarios where instead of being inspired by this relationship, we are instead distracted by it; often getting up from our desks to have a chat several times during the course of the day to the point that it interferes with productivity.

An easy solution to being distracted by a friend/coworker is by setting boundaries. Set aside time throughout the day that is appropriate for chatting; say a break or a mealtime. You might even consider making plans for after-work instead of jeopardizing your workday productivity.

Favoritism

When you are close with a co-worker, naturally, you want to work with that person whenever possible. In the case of group projects, teaming up with your friend may benefit the project in a number of ways. The project might thrive with a mixture of your complementary ideas or just because you work well together as a team. However, consider a few of the drawbacks of working together too often on projects.

To read Part 2 of Friendship in the Workplace: Some Tips, check back next week.