Why Having Close Friends In The Office Can Be A Productive Thing

International Friendship Day Friends Work

Work. Love it or hate it – and we all know which of those groups is biggest – we depend on it to pay the bills, and generally keep life ticking over. In times of old, most people kept their ‘work friends’ separate from their ‘real life friends’. Now that’s increasingly not the case.

Younger workers in particular – millennials – tend to blur the lines between work relationships and personal relationships more than their older peers. Spending more time with the people you work with is the modern trend, and it turns out that far from being yet another thing to criticise young people for, it can actually make your team more productive.

A recent Gallup poll (in the US) reported that those people who said they worked with a best friend were more likely to feel valued in the workplace. The results of the poll showed that people who work with their friends:
– feel more valued;
– report receiving greater levels of recognition for their work and their progress;
– believe that they are listened to more, and that their opinions count;
– believe they have more opportunities to do their best work.

Far from decades past when there was a clear physical separation between work and personal life, millennials are rarely separated from their smartphones and social media. This constant connection makes it unsurprising that their is less distinction between work and home. It’s not unusual, for example, to hear a millennial say something like “I was replying to your email while we were waiting for our starters in the restaurant on Saturday night.”

Friendships – and the 30th of this month is International Friendship Day after all – also have an impact on staff retention. Ask a millennial what their favourite previous role has been at a job interview, and chances are they’ll respond by talking about one of their less notable roles, but a role where they enjoyed working because they had positive relationships with their colleagues.

Whether you like it or not, as a manager you’re part of your team’s non-work life and, as we’ve seen, fostering positive relationships can only be a good thing. So next time one of your staff invites you out for happy hour after work, why not give it a go?