by Paul Ford
The average person spends 90,000 hours at work in a lifetime. That’s a long time to be in an environment with no satisfying social interaction. While many people used to take the approach that those you work with could only ever be colleagues there’s no clear evidence that developing those relationships into friendships has a lot of benefits.
You’re likely to enjoy your job more
It makes sense that positive interactions with people you like at work will help you to get more from every day that you’re there. One Gallup poll found that employees who have developed friendships at work find their job more satisfying as a result. In fact, this can increase job satisfaction by more than half. And if you have a BFF at work you’re 21% more likely to feel like you’re doing what you do best every day in the office.
Stress is less likely to get out of control
Having a bad day is 10% less likely if you have three hours of social time in a day. The working environment today can be incredibly pressurised and stress is a common factor for many of us. However, if you have friends at work you have the opportunity to socialise and this can help to bring stress levels down.
You won’t be phased by the big challenges
Friendships make us feel more supported and this can help to develop more resilience in the workplace. In one poll, 75% of employees with a good friend at work said that they felt able to take anything on. For those without this type of relationship in their life, the figure was just 58%. Another study identified that work friendships provide a firm foundation for being bolder at work, as people with friends said they found it easier to tackle the big challenges.
A productivity boost
The social interaction that friendships at work provide doesn’t detract from how productive you are but can actually enhance this. A study by researchers at MIT identified a clear link between conversations with co-workers and consequent improvements in productivity. If you have friends at work then you’re seven times more likely to engage with your tasks and challenges – and will be significantly more productive as a result.
Happier means healthier
There are some very tangible advantages to having friends at work and these can actually make you healthier. One study established that those who have 25 friends in their social network enjoy a range of health benefits, including being less likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes. Being isolated and alone at work can actually exacerbate these serious issues but if you’re part of a network of friends you’re much less likely to suffer from them.
Whether it’s in the context of being better at what you do, or enjoying a healthier lifestyle and greater physical wellbeing both in and out of the office, having friends at work is important for all of us.