Having a solid work crew plays a big role in your workplace happiness. It’s not just enjoying lunch together or having someone to go for coffee with, having a good support network actually makes us more productive too. While we’re often warned of the dangers of blurring the personal with the professional, in reality not developing friendships at work can be more detrimental to our success.
For one, our work friends act as wonderful stress relievers. They allow us to test the waters with certain ideas or problems without the fear of being shot down or ridiculed. When we need a second opinion, a bit of reassurance or even a reality check they’re there for us. Being able to talk openly at work in this way stops us from feeling isolated and decreases stress. If you’re in a naturally high pressure environment, having a confidant can be the difference between excelling in your role and sinking beneath the weight of it.
Research shows that more than 33% of people believe their colleagues are the most important support when dealing with mental health issues.
Work friendships are also the ultimate basis for teamwork. Nobody enjoys leaving the company down but when you’re close to people at work, it’s all the more difficult. When you enjoy being around your colleagues you’re more likely to work better together. You have a better understanding of each other’s work styles and personalities and this leads to better collaboration and higher productivity.
After flexibility around working days, our colleagues are our biggest motivators to stay in a job.
The truth is we work harder for people we like – people we can identify with on a human level and not just a professional one. In this way we’re more inclined to go above and beyond when it comes to taking on extra projects, covering more hours or generally picking up the slack outside our job description. A friend in need… as they say.
In addition, people who have strong friendships at work are more invested in the company overall. They’re more engaged with developments outside their own department and so communicate better across the board. They feel invested in the organisation beyond their own career progression and that does wonders for productivity.
Work friends are crucial in our personal development too. They build our confidence by offering support and reassurance in times of uncertainty and by providing informal feedback where a manager or boss might not be able to. The friends we make at work often give us a perspective we wouldn’t normally have in any other element of our lives. Unlike our other friends, those made through work, probably have less in common with us in terms of background, family structure, age or shared interests. This diversity of thought is key in helping us broaden our horizons and expand on our way of thinking.