When you spend a large part of your life doing anything, friends can always make it seem better and their company can help the time pass faster. This is definitely true of work where colleagues who go on to become good friends can support each other through the everyday drudgery and remind us that payday is coming up.
The Importance of Work Friends
It can help to discuss any aspect of work that is worrying you with your work friends as they may be plugged into different networks throughout the organisation and may be able to allay any concerns that you may have. It also helps just to be able to vent to someone on your own level about some of the harder parts of work, clients who are difficult to deal with etc. There are also specific areas that work friends can help you with. Good employers know that healthy working relationships make for happy staff.
Skill Sharing and Development
Being able to relate well to other staff members and build strong interpersonal relationships is an example of what are called transferable skills. These are skills that you will develop and carry with you throughout your working life and tend to be skills that are on the “softer” side of the spectrum. The phrase “softer skills” tends to refer to how you interact with others, it can include things like teamwork and how you demonstrate leadership in meetings.
When you develop friendships with your work colleagues, they may be more willing to share their skills in other areas with you as well. They may have seen an excellent tutorial that explains how to develop a particular skill that you were telling them that you would like to work on and can send you the link to it. It’s possible they may take some time out to sit and talk you through some of the complexities of something you are really struggling to wrap your head around.
This can be good for your own morale and decrease any feelings of self-doubt that you may have been harbouring. Seeing off impostor syndrome early can be good as it means that the negative self-talk is less likely to result in depression in the workplace.
Knowing Someone “Has your Back”
This can be an important aspect of life in many workplaces, particularly those where the more senior staff aren’t the most sympathetic of characters. It is always good to know that you have someone who is on the same “side” as you and will do what they can to help you steer clear of trouble, while you do the same for them. These are the kind of people who will try to lighten your load if you should show up to work hungover one day and do what they can to help you make it to home time.
Many people have experienced what it is like to work in a difficult working environment. Being able to trust that there is at least someone who has your back can definitely make it a lot more bearable in those circumstances.
Friendships can solidify if you feel like you are “in the trenches together”. Continuing to do your best in spite of those higher up the chain who are making your life difficult, but often not getting the recognition for the work you are doing can be hard. It is definitely a lot more tolerable if you have a friendly face to talk to every day.
Feeling connected to others socially is a major part of being human and we spend up to a third of our lives working, so it is only natural that we should seek to form connections amongst the people we see most often.
Being able to bring our whole selves to work and to talk about all aspects of our lives comfortably with people is something that can make a workplace feel a lot warmer and more welcoming. Feeling like you have permission to be your true, authentic self in front of people can be very freeing and many people manage to do this in their work environment.
Friendships that start in the workplace can often become “real life” non-work friendships as well and it is easier than ever to keep in touch with each other now, in the age of social media and messaging platforms like Whatsapp. Taking part in social activities outside of the workplace can cement friendships and let you get to know each other better in a non-work setting.
The prevailing wisdom on workplace romances is that they tend to e a bad idea because if they end, it makes it very difficult not just for you both, but for your colleagues. This is especially true if it is a hard breakup. Colleagues may feel pulled toward “supporting” one or other of you and it can make for a divided workplace as there can effectively become two “camps”.
Having said that, there have been an incredible number of workplace relationships that have lasted the distance. Over one in five married people in the USA met their spouse at work. It stands to reason that this is the case.
It is well known that prolonged proximity to, and familiarity with, people tends to increase their perceived attractiveness. This tends to indicate that people who meet at work and spend time together form a deeper attraction than just the surface level of physical attraction and that may explain how so many workplace relationships end up with wedding vows being exchanged.
Struggling to Make Friends at Work?
You might have been unlucky enough to end up working in a toxic environment where it is hard to make friends and if this is the case, you may want to think about brushing up on your CV and cover letter writing skills.
Take a look at our jobs board if you would like to see what is out there to change or reinvigorate your career.