Work friends can make the longest days seem manageable — sometimes even enjoyable. They also improve the workplace from a manager’s or business owner’s perspective.
The shift to remote work has weakened employee engagement, but there are ways to increase retention and connect staff.
Here are some reasons why work friendships can make a difference.
1. Work friends increase job satisfaction
Bonding with someone at work can significantly improve a less-than-ideal work situation. When you have a friend at work, you like your job more. A work family builds genuine connections that can last a lifetime.
Connecting with those around you makes you more likely to stick around and be satisfied with your job. About 20 per cent of workers have a close work friend, making them perform better and less likely to leave their job.
Work friends can also reduce stress and provide someone like-minded or understanding of what you’re going through.
It can be challenging to relate to a spouse or friend’s work-related issues if you don’t understand. Work friends get it and can comfort and advise you appropriately. A job’s stressors can quickly take their toll and affect your performance and productivity, but having a friend at work to share this with can help.
2. Work friends build morale
Remote work can be isolating and lonely, which can mimic actual physical pain that can destroy innovation and productivity.
Work friends can improve this situation by offering companionship and communication when it feels like you’re shut off from the rest of the world. Friendships can make you more creative, productive and increase your focus.
Work friends can give you someone to lean on, bounce ideas off of, and bond with over work-related issues or discussions.
Building morale can be challenging when working remotely, but employers can use various methods to increase engagement, profitability and confidence. Virtual happy hours are an excellent way to boost morale and connect employees.
Joining meetings early to chat with co-workers can help team members understand who they’re talking to rather than relying on work-related discussions.
It’s important for companies to create opportunities for employees to meet in person through work functions. Equally, they should encourage them to discuss projects and help each other as much as possible to minimise feelings of isolation and increase productivity.
Team-building activities, incentives and employee recognition are all excellent ways to increase engagement.
3. Work friends boost productivity
Employees’ productivity increases when they are comfortable, like when they’re around friends.
Remote work can be lonely and monotonous, regardless of who lives in your home. In-office work tasks can be challenging, but it’s easier to reach out and ask for help when you pass people in the hallway or they walk by your desk.
Burnout will likely happen if you don’t have like-minded individuals to discuss work-related topics or issues with. It can adversely affect your mental and emotional health, and directly results from overworking and chronic workplace stress. Work friends can minimise the likelihood of experiencing burnout by increasing happiness and productivity in the workplace.
If you’re unsure how to make work friends, discuss available options with your manager, like potential collaboration projects. Consider taking a leap and reaching out to someone on your team for a Zoom meeting after work or on your lunch break to discuss something that’s been troubling you.
You could even meet to talk about something unrelated to work. Social connections with co-workers can strengthen your work performance, creativity and overall wellbeing.
The importance of work friends
Work friends significantly contribute to workplace profitability and productivity.
If you’re a business owner or employer, do whatever you can to increase engagement and encourage your employees to connect. It will strengthen your business, reduce turnover and keep your workers happy.