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Why is it important to have friends at work?

/ 03:57 PM February 11, 2021
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Image: South_agency/Getty Images

At the moment, colleagues tend to be among the few human beings we come across on a daily basis. And they can, sometimes, change status, from “colleagues” to “friends,” particularly since making friends in the workplace increases the well-being and productivity of employees.

Outings, exhibitions, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs… All these places, where meetings usually abound, have come to a halt. And opportunities to see friends are rare. Therefore, what remains are colleagues — if you work face-to-face that is. Making friends, indeed very good friends, seems a good idea, to enlarge your private circle and increase social interactions.

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In the United States, 82% of those employed full-time declared that they have at least one friend at work, and 30% even consider themselves to have a best friend as a colleague, according to a 2018 study by Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois, published in 2018. In France, an OpinionWay survey, dating from 2013, explains that 93% of the French consider the workplace as somewhere to make friends.

“The research is extremely clear that having friends at work has benefits,” Yale School of Management’s Marissa King told Axios media. So what are these benefits?

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Well-being and productivity at work

Sharing a coffee, a meal, or even having small conversations in the office — oh, gosh, it’s chilly today — with people we get along with, makes the day much more enjoyable. We are, inevitably, much happier to go to work when people we like are there, especially when we consider the number of hours spent in the office. Even if conversations don’t fly high, and you don’t solve the world’s problems with your weather chats, making friends at work has direct consequences on mental health. And therefore happiness.

A happy atmosphere at work promotes productivity, and employees tend to be more involved in their tasks. It also stimulates cohesiveness in teams and a potentially greater commitment dynamic in the company.

The limits of friendship at work

But out of this friendly and professional harmony, problems can arise, especially when it comes to performance evaluations or promotions, warns Marissa King. “When boundaries get blurred, you feel forced to make a choice of, ‘Am I loyal to a person or am I loyal to my work?’,” she explains to Axios. Different degrees of friendship exist within companies. According to the Olivet Nazarene University study, 20% of workers questioned consider their colleagues to be their “work friends,” meaning a friendship linked only in the setting of work, while 40% of workers say that their colleagues are just their colleagues. NVG

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TOPICS: friendship, mental health, Productivity, relationships, well-being, Workplace
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