Friends at the office

Friends at the office

Back in the day, it was deemed “preferable” to separate personal and business life.  Many companies even had policies forbidding dating in the same company (even if the pair did not work in the same division or reporting lines).  Those were also the days when people went home at 5:00, had “separate lives” from work, and of course, did not have email chasing them home via their phones and tablets.  A simpler life indeed.

Yet even then it was obvious that we spent as much or more time with our work family than with our “real” family.  Today’s reality Is that close friendships do blossom and last lifetimes.  Romances occur and for better or worse, run their course.  Companies no longer meddle in worker romances, except when there is a direct reporting line.

Do you have close friendships from work?  Platonic or otherwise?   Do you go on vacation, go to concerts, participate in sports or even just play poker with some of your office-mates?

If you’re like most of the WorkersCount community you do.  In fact over 80% reported this week that they have workplace friendships. 

With good friendships at work, it can seem that together you can conquer the world!  Difficult projects become bearable, even fun.

What is the impact on this “chemistry” at work when flex time and teleworking occur?  Yes it’s convenient and satisfying to work from home and at cafés etc.  But what do we sacrifice when we give up “face time” and “hallway conversations” at work?   What do we give up when we forego casual lunchtime conversations, coffee break chats and chance introductions to co-workers from other divisions or work groups made by mutual friends at work?  A lot!

Hijinx is a way to blow-off steam that you just can't do via a video conference line, for example.

That VP you wanted to meet may be a good friend of one of your work-mates that went to school with him/her.

That killer UX engineer may be sitting by herself at lunch, and your good friend from your last project can introduce you, so you can ask her about a project you’re supervising.

And so it goes.

And here’s some hard evidence:  A recent study showed that people with three close friends at work were 46% more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and 88% more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

That’s a big parachute.

Before celebrating the benefits of working outside of the office, consider what you need to do to build “relationship equity” by being present and being part of the team in person.

And as we discussed in a prior post here, it is essential to continue to reach out, build new relationships, make yourself a known quantity to build your “parachute” internally.  You will make new connections, and some of them will become friends.  A few of those will become good friends and if you’re lucky, lifelong ones, inside and outside of your company.   But it won’t happen unless you consistently practice little steps to expand your circles.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and here’s to seeing all of our WorkersCount community have fun expanding their personal and professional circles, and also making time for the friends we’ve already made.  These will be the ones that introduce us to the friends and colleagues we don’t yet know about.   Serendipity.  Kismet.  Fate.  Luck.  But it’s really not random and it’s really not by pure chance.  Make your own luck.  Get out there and expand your “footprint.” 

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