Having Friends at Work Can Boost Happiness for Young People
Adulthood brings so many challenges. The most difficult, and least talked about, challenge is making friends at work. When you were in school, you were surrounded by people your age with similar goals as well as similar stressors. Before you know it you’re out on your own, working full-time and all of your friends have scattered across the globe to pursue their goals. Suddenly you look around and realize you’re going to have to start being more intentional about making and maintaining friendships.
Then the pandemic hit and now you’re working from home unable to even attempt to create connections with new people. Happy and healthy friendships in the workplace have always been vital to one’s career success, but now two years later, feeling connected to the people you work with is a precious resource.
There Are Many Benefits To Having Friends At Work:
It was once assumed that success brings happiness but it’s the other way around: happiness brings success. One of the keys to happiness in the workplace is feeling engaged. Having at least one friend at work helps you feel more engaged, not only in the work you’re performing but engaged in the organization’s bigger picture.
When an organization has happy and satisfied employees they tend to be more productive and motivated to get the job done. Friends are great motivators. This is why fitness trainers are always talking about having a workout buddy: you’re accountable to someone who is rooting for you just as much as you’re rooting for them.
Just like motivation, productivity increases when a person feels engaged in their work. While some friends can be a distraction at times, good work friends can elevate each other’s work and provide the support each of them needs to get the job done.
There are so many examples in movies, TV and theater where people team up and something magical happens. This is why you see directors hiring the same actors all the time and why many comedy writers are best friends and/or in a relationship. Unlike your friends from college or your roommates, only your work friend can help you creatively solve a work problem.
You can see how all four of these interconnect with each other. In order to be successful at work you need to feel happy, productive, motivated and creative but without at least one person in your corner, cheering you on and showing up when things are tough, it can feel next to impossible.
How to Make Friends at Work in a Remote Setting
Now that you know how valuable it is to have at least one work friend, it’s time to find that friend. While remote work has allowed us to roll out of bed and wear yoga pants all day, it has taken away one of the few environments to easily make friends.
We make a friend when we meet someone whom we connect with and we have at least one or two things in common. We build friendships by seeing the person over and over again. This is one of the biggest challenges of making friends as an adult working remotely. You may meet someone new, but when you’re not in person, you lose out on seeing that person over and over again to reinforce and build the relationship.
If You Want To Make Friends At Work You Have To Be Intentional And Consistent.
As much as it would be nice if someone at work would simply email you and ask to be friends, that’s probably not going to happen which means you need to set the intention of making friends. This means every time someone who has similar ideas or interests shows up in a Zoom meeting, make it a point to reach out after to see if they’re available for a virtual meeting.
Let your other work friends know you’re looking to make more friends and keep an eye out. If you’re new to the job, be transparent and tell people, “Hey, I’m new and looking to meet people, here’s how you can schedule time with me.” The biggest difference between making friends in school vs. work is you have to be direct and tell people what you want.
If you want to build a relationship it takes seeing that person over and over again, getting to know each other to build that connection. If you have a Zoom chat with someone you think could be a potential friend, be consistent and stay on top of the relationship.
This means you may have to be the one who initiates Zoom chats or IRL meet-ups in the beginning. Don’t worry about “bothering” someone or feeling like you’re too pushy; if the other person doesn’t want to be your friend, they’ll find a reason to say “no.” If the other person wants to be your friend, they’ll show up.
What Boundaries To Have With A Work Friend
Like any other relationship in your life, you need to have boundaries. Boundaries are especially important in work friendships because it’s really easy for lines to get blurry and it can be hard to know if you’re dealing with your colleague or your friend.
Before you start your research for a new work friend, get clear on your own boundaries at work. What are you comfortable sharing with someone at work? Do you want to only make friends with people who are at your same level at the company? Are you strictly looking for a work friend or someone to do things outside of work?
You want to ask yourself these questions first because that will help you make healthy choices. If you know you won’t feel comfortable being too friendly with a manager then you know to steer clear of management when looking for a friend.
When looking for a work friend listen to their stories about any past work relationships. If you’re hearing a lot of stories about how your potential new friend has had drama at every company they’ve worked at then this is telling you that you need to keep looking. If you identify and set your boundaries now you won’t find yourself in friendships with people who don’t align with your values.
Ultimately, friends are your chosen family, and having a coworker whom you can count on as a friend can make all the difference for your overall happiness levels at work.