Is there such thing as a 9-to-5 job anymore? With emails from the boss just a phone touch away, most employees are tied to their work even when their desk is nowhere in sight.
You know the drill: Quick questions come over text at dinner time about a proposal that needs to be sent off the next day. The client wants to reschedule a call and proceeds to go back and forth over the weekend.
The work seems to never end, whether we want it to or not. However, these blurred lines don't only apply to hours worked, but also to relationships formed at the office.
The people we work with aren't just coworkers. They become good friends. But is this a bad thing? Archaic advice might suggest not to combine work and play. However, current research tells a different story.
Given how much everyone works, it'd be unfortunate for colleagues to be anything but someone you say hello to as you grab your morning coffee. As Americans, employed people age 25 to 54 spend 8.6 hours working or in work related activities, compared to 7.7 hours sleeping, according to the American Time Use survey. Regardless of the fact that having a friend whom you see every day brings the same level of joy as making $100,000 more every year, having strong friendships at work brings a surprising number of benefits to our day job.
Here are four ways friendships with colleagues benefit your work:
Your Productivity Soars.
Gallup offers the Q12 Survey, which includes the question: “Do you have a best friend at work?" What they found is that having a work bestie is one of the strongest predictors of productivity. Friendships lead to a level of trust and engagement that differentiate highly productive workgroups from mediocre workgroups. Think about working alongside someone you consider a best friend; the feeling is very different than working with someone you consider difficult. There's much less wasted energy and interpersonal obstacles.
You're More Satisfied With Your Job.
Friendship expert Shasta Nelson studies and teaches the requirements of friendship in her book, Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness. When it comes to having good friends on the job, she says, “There are actually few things that matter more to our job satisfaction than whether we have friends at work. We will often put up with a less than desirable job role if we love the people we work with and will want out of a 'dream job' if we don't feel like the people we work with support or accept us." So, if you want to love your job more, focus on building friendships you care about.
You’re Better Equipped to Deal With Setbacks.
Setbacks happen within the context of any job and any life. Employees who have friends they can share that with, and thus see their work as more meaningful, are better equipped to bounce back in the face of difficulty, according to research by Ron Friedman in The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace. But where do these friendships begin? Nelson suggests starting slowly. “I champion incremental vulnerability in all new relationships," she says, "but it's even more important to do at work to help ensure our friendship grows and stays healthy. So with a few of our colleagues who we might feel more of a desire to get to know better we will start to share about ourselves; but this should be done slowly and thoughtfully, making sure our sharing feels safe, mutual, and affirming before escalating."
You Become a More Effective Team.
In 1997, professors at University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota put together a study to see if colleague friendships improved performance on decision-making and collaborative tasks. They found that friendships outperformed acquaintances on all tasks because they were committed to communicating better while working and gave continuous feedback. Plus, they gave more critical feedback. Meanwhile, acquaintances were siloed and less likely to ask for help. Having spent her career studying the impact of friendship, Nelson points out many of the same indicators. “If we have close friends at work we report calling in sick less, feeling safer collaborating, believing our opinions matter, engaging our customers with more friendliness, and getting more done with our time," she notes.
Building friendships at work, the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours, has the potential to improve overall career success and fulfillment.
Maxie McCoy is a writer and speaker with a message: how to find and follow your inspiration for an extraordinary life. Maxie delivers inspiring writings, actionable video, and customized sessions on maxiemccoy.com. She also develops curriculum and offline experiences for the Millennial career website, Levo.