Co-worker Friends: The Pros and Cons

Co-worker Friends: The Pros and Cons

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You’ve heard the old adage, “Keep your work and social life separate,” but what happens when the two mix? The combo can be as great as chocolate chips and cookie dough, or it also can be a recipe for disaster. So where do you draw the line between playing with your coworkers or just playing favorites?

Making friends at work is actually not as bad as it is made out to be. Studies and experts have agreed — friendships in the workplace are a good thing. Not only do they benefit you, but also they surprisingly benefit the company too. Check it out!

How Friendships Benefit You

• They make your day more enjoyable (or in some cases, more tolerable).
• Friends can give you feedback on your work without sounding like the boss. Hearing praise or criticism has some cushioning when it comes from someone you feel is on “your level” rather than from a superior.
• You get the scoop on company happenings. Not to be confused with gossip, talking with friends can give you different insights on your work, other departments or important information you might have missed.
• Sing it — Money, money, money….MONEY!” A ton of businesses offer rewards and bonuses for referring someone to work there. Nothing beats getting some extra cash for bringing your gal pal on board!
• You can vent and not get in trouble. Sometimes your family or friends outside of the company just don’t understand, or there is too much politics to explain why you are upset. Having a friend to release your frustrations to without spending an hour in prep time helps you “get it all out” without getting kicked out.
• You meet new people. If you recently moved, it can help you find new friends, plus you can get outside of your comfort zone.

How Friendships Benefit the Company:

• Creativity, as well as productivity, is increased when employees form friendships.
• Workers do a better job — really! A poll conducted by Accountemps reports that 63 percent of workers said they turn out better results when they have friends to work with.
• Friends keep each other motivated and positive, thus helping calm distractions and emotions.
• Friends help recruit good workers. If an excellent, hard working, employee refers a friend, odds are they are going to be an asset as well.
• Forming bonds and sharing ideas boost group projects and increases teamwork.

Of course there can also be problems with forming friendship in the workplace. Too much play time can take away from work time. Also, if there is a disagreement, it can drastically affect the group dynamic. Other workers might feel as though are caught in the middle or your fight, or even worse, you may become completely ostracized. Other problems that can arise are favoritism, “backstabbing,” and of course the good old fashioned trash talk and rumors. Coworkers who aren’t in your circle of friends can feel like they aren’t treated like you, particularly if you are close with a supervisor or person of power. With all the possible drama aside and when the storm subsides, you can possibly end up miserable, and the once-fun times can turn into a 9 to 5 personal hell.

Nevertheless, here are five helpful things to remember to make your work (and your friendships) flourish:

1. Don’t lose your focus. Keep the time spent at work professional and business oriented.
2. Keep up with your responsibilities. Avoid taking on your friends’ work to help them out if it distracts you from your workload. Don’t miss deadlines, let tasks go or decrease your productivity for the sake of saving someone else.
3. Put a stop to favoritism. Don’t let your selection of friends affect group projects or team moral. Keeping people out of the loop because they aren’t your friends can not only hurt their feelings, but also can hurt the company as well.
4. Watch what you say and who you say it to. Remember that friendships can go sour quickly, and trust should not be taken lightly. Rule of thumb on this one: if you don’t want it getting back to your boss, then don’t say it.
5. Last but not least, remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as they would have done unto you.” This doesn’t mean you should lose your competitive edge, but be considerate of how you treat others and mind your manners.