Buddies at Work?

Building relationships at work is important, but can one become ‘too friendly?’ In BBC article: The Right Way to Build Friendships at Work it states, “Experts agree. It can be important to share some personal details in order to nurture a work friendship, Geddes explained. Sharing information about your life, such as upcoming weekend plans, without revealing too much is a good way to keep a balance. Not acceptable: problems at home, your family financial situation and most health issues.”

Other experts agree that having friends at work is important for career growth and loyalty. In Forbes article Debunking the No Friends at Work Rule: Why Friend-Friendly Work Places Are the Future it states, “The question isn’t really should we mix friends and work,” says Alia McKee, co-founder of Lifeboat. “That’s inevitable. The question is how do we get it right.” She cites three major reasons why a friend-friendly workplace is critical to your company’s success. First, the very concept of a work-life division is eroding. With employees spending more time at work – and on work at home – colleagues can become your employees’ only social option…Second, close friendships at work have business advantages, such as increased productivity and employee retention…Third, advocates argue that close friendship among colleagues must be framed in a broader context, as part of company culture. Staff with strong bonds – teams that know and care about each other beyond what’s required of their tasks and roles – can create the kind of competitive hiring advantage.”

In another article written in the Huffington Post Why You Should Care About Having Friends at Work it states, “Research has found that strong social connections at the office can boost productivity, and could make employees more passionate about their work and less likely to quit their jobs.”

“…[there is a ] multitude of evidence suggesting that office friendships can act as an antidote to dissatisfaction and disengagement at work….employees who enjoy this type of camaraderie are more likely to stay at their jobs and feel loyal to the company they work for.”

After reading these articles, I couldn’t help but think about movies I have seen and people I have talked to who have experienced career hardships. They always tend to hear “business is business.” The response we typically hear in tough and conflicting situations is, “how is this business? This my life!” I currently work with someone who told me that establishing friendships at work is fine, but when it comes to making the best decision for the business, friendships need to be put to the side. In that way he says he tries to avoid becoming ‘too friendly’ with his employees and coworkers.

As the Communication Specialist of my contract, I have noticed how effective a team can be when they have friendships in the office. I have noticed that maintaining these friendships outside of the office can be lucrative for both parties and does improve how a team operates together. However, I do believe there is a line of decency and morality that needs to be maintained.

The lines are blurred, but I appreciate the sage advice from two experts:

  • In the BBC article of Mr. Sagar Sheth, a Chicago-based investment banker, who said, ““In many ways, you have to be much more strategic about choosing friends inside the office versus outside the office.”
  • In the same article, Dana Ardi author of The Fall of the Alphas: the New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence — and Lead in New York said, “There are times when you socialise with an intimacy that doesn’t belong. With each friendship you sort of need to compartmentalise.”