Friends without benefits: Fostering friendship at workplace

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 “Friends are God’s way of taking care of us”, old wisdom says. 

The recent studies show that having friends influences our well-being and even is good for our physiological health. Having a close person beside you during hard times can prevent you from problems with cardiovascular as well as reduce stress levels. Researches held by Gallup show that three hours of social activity reduce the risk of having a bad day up to 10%. As we spend most of our time at work, it seems like a good idea of having friends with coworkers. However nowadays only 30% of employees have best friends at work, and only 6% of Americans have taken their relationships with coworkers to the level of going to a vacation with a colleague, states Harvard Business Review. This phenomenon shows that people feel insecure sharing their personal life in a working environment that makes the question of workplace friendships rather controversial. 

Thus, let’s have a closer look at whether building strong relationships with the colleagues worth the risk. 

Advantages of friendly relationships at the workplace 

First of all, let’s see why scientists state the importance of relationships with your coworkers. There’re several reasons for that and the most important is that it can foster productivity in the workplace up to seven times. The paradox is that people become more engaged with their responsibilities even if they don’t work on the same projects with their close friends. Besides, you will enjoy time spent at work, as it will be more fun and relaxed and you’re more eager to come to arrive at your workplace in a good mood and with more pleasure in the mornings. This contributes to your well-being and prevents you from emotional burnout. What’s more, having friends at the workplace will help you to reduce stress levels from dealing with difficult coworkers.

Risks you may face by making friends at work

A lot of people think work friends are not real friends and encouraging friendship with your colleagues is not a good idea. But there’re several things they are afraid of the most. Firstly, the business environment is quite competitive. And all the personal information you share with your friends can be used against you and your reputation. Thus, you should be sure in the person you trust. Besides, some people don’t approve spending time communicating with friends instead of focusing on the tasks. You should also consider the fact that in case any personal conflicts arise, it may negatively influence teamwork. Alongside these factors is a fear of breaking up with a friend when one of you gets promotion and become the boss.  These issues can lead to serious problems you should be ready to manage. 

Employee – boss friendship 

This is one of the riskiest types of workplace relationships. Many companies try to prevent it by mitigating conflicts of interest in their policies. The most serious problems in having close relationships between the manager and subordinate is a risk of favoritism that may lead to conflicts with other coworkers as well as to unfair encouragements and promotion. Besides, difficulties with projects at work may influence personal communication and vice versa – conflicts that may arise can create a strained relationship at work. Apart from that, it’s always hard to give rational criticism to a close friend, even if it is connected to their professional activity. However, there’s a light side in this kind of relationships, people get more committed to their work when they are afraid of letting down their close person. In addition, your boss will certainly know you better and will arrange your work in the way that suits you. It will build a greater interest in work as well as create a respectful and compassionate working environment.

Starting business with a friend 

Another question that brings up lots discussions is business partnership between friends. The main risk in such relationships is that people can become enemies when they start competing for their shares in business. History has so many examples when friendship ended with feud when business gone bad or contrariwise, became successful. On the other hand, it always seems attractive to start an enterprise with a person you completely trust and not to afraid a knife in the back. What do you think about that?

How does working together strengthen a friendship? 

Despite all the risk factors, working together may have a significant positive influence on personal relationships. You spend a lot of time together with your friend and are always by their side to provide them with support in difficult situations. In addition, you can become great coworkers, as you already have well-adjusted communication, excellence and weaknesses of each other to create good teamwork. Plus, you will always have someone to spend a break with a smile.

How not to fail when having friendship at workplace? 

If we convinced you having a work friend is worth a risk, here are some pieces of advice on how to create strong relationships at the workplace and mitigate all the risks.

  • Set boundaries 

Be realistic to split up personal and professional. You should be fair in discussing the project performance with your friend as well as perceive criticism maturely. Don’t get mad when receiving unpleasant comments from your friend and don’t allow it to influence your communication outside the office.

  • Avoid gossips 

Friendship is all about security, so never share your friend’s personal information with other colleagues. You will never get new friends gossiping about an old one, but will certainly ruin existing relationships.

  • Include others to your team 

Building a strong team is not a synonym to working with close friends. It’s good when team members understand each other from a half-word, however, to be productive, you should include different people with different strengths and weaknesses who will complement each other in such a way showing the best result possible.

  • Treat everyone equally 

When you peer relationships at work, be sure that no one in your team doesn’t feel overboard. You should show respect to everyone and treat everyone fairly notwithstanding personal preferences. Do you remember your irritation, when your teacher had that blue-eyed boy in the classroom? Don’t make your colleagues feel like you did.

All in all, having no friends at work is not fun. But you should be especially careful with this vulnerable relationships

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