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Why Cultivating Office Friendships Is So Important

Many of us work to earn as much money as we can in order to enjoy ourselves outside of work, but this drive shouldn’t be at the detriment of our happiness when we’re at work. When we’re spending nearly a third of our lives working we should ensure we’re enjoying what we do, and countless studies show that having a friend at the workplace is a big factor to improved job satisfaction. Improved job satisfaction means improved focus, energy and productivity, which feeds into why you’re there in the first place and the harmonious circle is complete.

Office Friendships

A recent survey has found that having good friends at work could lead to new levels of creativity and productivity. 57% of respondents said that having a best friend at work made their time there more enjoyable, compared to 11% who said they don’t have a best friend in the office, but would like one. Almost a third of the employees surveyed stated that having a friend working alongside them made them more productive, and over one in five said that it boosted their creativity. In another survey, employees that had a best friend at work were 1.4 x more likely to have received praise in the last week, have a 35% higher commitment to the quality of their work and have a 20% higher perception of “having the opportunity to do what they do best every day”. Even the 85% of managers who valued salary over happiness agreed that an office environment that allows friendships to flourish could provide invaluable benefits for businesses.

Workplace friendships don’t have to be your most treasured, just someone who motivates you and who you can rely on. See below for some tips on how to cultivate your office friendships:

How you can make friends at work

Find opportunities to join in
Attend any out-of-work events that your company might arrange, from lunch outings and pub socials to cycling trips and parenting circles. If your company doesn’t offer any of these treats then make use of the down-times at lunch, travelling to meetings or in the pub after work to connect with colleagues. Wildgoose found that after-work drinks were voted the best way to improve employee relationships.

Show interest
You’ll find that a little effort goes a long way in the workplace. The gesture of simply showing your interest in being friends with someone will plant a good seed for a friendship to grow. This involves basic levels of thoughtfulness, such as saying hello when you see them, making them a tea or coffee when you make yourself one, or offering a helping hand when they’re in a tight spot. Over time this behaviour will build up a solid bond of respect.

Be a positive force
Always maintain your respect for others. Don't be tempted to get gossipy in order to get closer to someone because those kind of connections aren't genuine or lasting. You will only end up alienating yourself from not just the people who are the topics of your conversation but eventually from the people you are chatting with. Gossips can't be trusted and don't make people feel good.

Beware of the personal
Try not to indulge your employees with too much of yourself. A little here and there when appropriate will help build trust between you, but too much is off-putting. You want people to enjoy your company and to inspire light-heartedness in people in a working environment, so avoid personal topics like romantic relationships and stick to football and hobbies.

Discover common grounds
In the workplace it’s comforting to have people who are like you around you. Similarities can be anything from liking the same music to having a particular taste for South-East Asia. If someone cycles to work ask about their cycling adventures, or if you see a book hanging around that looks interesting get a conversation going about literature. Connecting over non-personal topics will ensure you’re a point of reference for pleasure rather than anything sensitive.

Maintain personal space
In order for your friendship to stay light-hearted and undemanding it might be best to keep contact within working hours. As soon as you overstep into personal time it is tempting to move onto personal topics, which isn't always the best way to cultivate a work friendship. Lunch dates during the working week and travelling to and from work are ideal times for colleague connection.

About the author

Matt Finch is a Content Strategist at Distinctly - an award–winning search marketing agency with a passion for helping businesses grow through SEO, PPC and related services. Email if@itntycnodsicl.o Tel: 01923 728191

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