With the chances of remote working being extended and the potential for more flexibility to work from home in the future, how much impact will this have on meeting likeminded people and the benefits to our lives this can make?
Work friends are a key factor when it comes to career happiness, and for many of us, they’re the people who make work worthwhile.
SO WHY ARE CO-WORKERS IMPORTANT TO US?
Even if you have a close family and wonderful friends outside of work only non-one will understand your work environment and the challenges you face day to day like your co-workers. Colleagues can see first-hand what your actual job consists of and are familiar with the ups and downs that come with that.
Work friends will be there through the good times and the bad, and it is normal to vent when you find yourselves in a frustrating situation, having a best friend to turn to unload your emotions allows you to release suppressed feelings and talk things through. On the flip side of sharing your frustrations you can also share your successes and celebrations together and make sure you “enjoy the moment”
In basic terms good work colleagues help you get through the day, no matter what it throws at you, by keeping you calm, entertained or just a friend to have lunch with. They can give good advice and challenge you when they feel you need to think otherwise about certain situations both in terms of the work and the other colleagues you may be working alongside – a true friend will help you see it from your own perspective, but other perspectives also.
Many adult friendships are formed through the workplace, and even if those work friends don’t become your closest confidantes outside the office, having trusted colleagues with whom you can share your triumphs and tribulations can really help with your emotional well-being at work.
Work colleagues should not be seen as a distraction from the work you are there to do, they are relationships that give us a sense of belonging and a strong link to our productivity. If you have the same work ethics and passion as a colleague, then you tend to drive each other along to achieve your targets and goals.
Reports have shown that since many of us have been working from home and haven’t interacted with colleagues old or new in the same way friendships have faded as well as productivity. Think back to the days when you would enter the workplace perhaps feeling less productive and your colleague encouraged you to push through and achieve so much more than you felt possible.
WHY WORKPLACE FRIENDSHIPS ARE WORTH THE EFFORT
We will spend around a quarter of our adult lives at work, so knowing that we are surrounded by people who we can trust and whose company we enjoy can only have a positive impact on our wellbeing.
With more and more of our work exchanges taking the form of electronic communications, the importance of forming meaningful bonds with colleagues at work has never been more significant. As well as many newcomers never having physically met their work colleagues in person and only through a screen, it has become vitally important to put the effort into building strong work relationships.
- Gaining Advice – If you have close friends at work, it is often easier to ask them for help and advice, rather than going to someone more senior for a minor issue. We are all learning at different stages and sharing our knowledge and thoughts can be a great benefit to our career progression.
- Working In Isolation – for some working in isolation isn’t new, however many of us enjoy chatting to colleagues during the day. Companionship makes the workday pass faster, with a few laughs along the way to brighten your spirits. It also gives you a sense of purpose to get up and go to work when you know your colleagues are friends as well and you can catch up during your coffee or lunch breaks.
- A greater knowledge of the business and opportunities – By sharing your thoughts, feelings, and knowledge of the company you are working for, you gain extra insights from a different perspective, therefore increasing your overall insights into the business and how things work. Likewise, you also gain an understanding of the career path each of you are seeking and can advise if the ideal role comes up that will match your capabilities and skill set.
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO TO INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FRIENDSHIPS AT WORK?
- Show a genuine interest in other people
- Truly listen
- Respect boundaries
- Promote communication and collaboration in your team
- Help new team members to integrate
- Encourage participation
- Work hard, but have fun too
- Celebrate Success
Working on your own or in a very small organisation makes it a lot more challenging to foster friendships at work. In these instances, it is important to grow and nurture reliable and strong support networks with peers outside of your own practice. Positive social connections are core to our mental and emotional wellbeing, and we need trusted confidants to keep growing and developing both personally and professionally.
In a recent survey (The 2021 Post-Lockdown Friends & Happiness in the Workplace Survey – wearewildgoose.com)
Here were the TOP FINDINGS:
- More people prioritise happiness than salary
- Having a good friend at work makes work more enjoyable and provides support
- Face-to-face after-work drinks are the most popular team-building activity
- People prefer in-person team-building activities to the virtual equivalents
- London has some of the country’s loneliest employees: 47% don’t have a friend at work
THE OVERALL BENEFITS OF GREAT WORKING RELATIONSHIPS
Acceptance in the workplace has been shown to lead to higher job satisfaction, wellbeing, engagement, performance, and retention levels. Close relationships between colleagues are also especially important for remote workers to prevent the experience of isolation and being “cut off” from their teams. As we have seen recently, technology can be a valuable tool to facilitate social connectedness, but is it a long-term proposition when we don’t engage face to face with those we are working with?
EMPLOYERS WILL BE INTERESTED TO HEAR THAT 12% OF PEOPLE STATE THEY’RE LESS LIKELY TO LEAVE A COMPANY IF THEY HAVE A GOOD FRIEND THERE.