Genuine business friendships can greatly improve organisational culture and support better work-life balance, higher morale, and enhanced productivity. Knowing how to foster these connections can improve the fulfillment and fun of your work environment.
Nurul openly shared, "I had the comforting knowledge that my close comrades at the workplace had my back. They even extended a helping hand to lighten my workload, enabling me to concentrate on caring for my mother. This is a memory I will forever hold dear."
Nurul, aged 34, holds the position of associate director at Asia PR Werkz, a public relations firm. She firmly believes that work friendships equate to having a dependable and personal connection with her colleagues.
Similar to Nurul, Mr. Andy Soh places great significance on his work friends. At 38 years old, Andy serves as a senior producer at Media.Monks is a creative production company with a digital-first approach. He attributes his high morale and improved work efficiency to these friendships.
Furthermore, Andy relishes the moments when he can share meals with his coworkers and spend leisure time with them after office hours. During these informal gatherings, they delve into challenges they face at work and exchange ideas on how to conquer them.
The experiences of Nurul and Andy underscore the vital role that work friendships play in maintaining employee productivity and engagement.
Research also provides substantial evidence supporting the significance of cultivating close friendships in the workplace. In a survey conducted in 2021, it was revealed that 57% of employees expressed that having a best friend at work significantly enhanced their overall job satisfaction. Additionally, 22% of respondents agreed that having work friends contributed to heightened productivity levels. Conversely, individuals lacking workplace friendships or those with fewer than five friends often experienced heightened feelings of loneliness and disengagement.
Professor Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School delves into the connection between productivity and workplace relationships. She states, "Individuals tend to exhibit greater creativity and productivity when immersed in a more positive inner work environment. This environment includes heightened positive emotions, increased motivation toward their work tasks, and more favorable perceptions of the organization. One of the key contributors to fostering this positive inner work environment is the presence of camaraderie among team members and close colleagues. This camaraderie creates a sense of bonding and mutual trust among coworkers."
The value of friendships at work
Having good working relationships has a number of advantages:
Elevates Mood: Developing a sense of camaraderie among coworkers can uplift spirits and make the workplace more enjoyable.
Productivity can be improved by having supportive coworkers since they can encourage a better dedication to the team and its initiatives
Promotes Professional Development: Reliable colleagues provide a setting where you feel at ease asking for guidance and assistance, promoting both your personal and professional growth.
How to make friends at work
Make Introductions Count: Initiate introductions with your coworkers, both within and outside your department. Actively seek out connections, as you may discover shared interests in unexpected places within your company.
Remember Names and Use Them: Taking the time to remember and use your colleagues' names is a simple yet powerful way to show your investment in getting to know them better.
Greet and Inquire: Extend greetings and farewells to your colleagues, and show genuine interest in their lives by asking about their weekends or hobbies. Consistent interaction will naturally lead to deeper conversations.
Cultivate Positivity: Maintain a positive attitude, as it draws people towards you. Positive body language, such as smiling and open gestures, signals friendliness and approachability.
Personalise Your Workspace: Displaying personal items in your workspace can serve as conversation starters. Sharing aspects of your life, like family photos or hobbies, can uncover common ground with colleagues.
Share Treats: Surprise your team with breakfast treats or coffee, providing an opportunity for personal thanks and interaction. This gesture can also inspire others to reciprocate in the future.
Lunch and Coffee Breaks: Opt for communal lunch spaces over solitary desk dining. Additionally, suggest grabbing a meal or coffee with coworkers, facilitating casual conversations and deeper connections.
Collaborate in Common Areas: If possible, spend time in shared working spaces, allowing for spontaneous interactions with fellow employees.
Offer Assistance: Extend a helping hand, even if it hasn't been explicitly requested. This supportive environment fosters natural connections and friendships.
Attend Work and Social Events: Participate in company events or committees that promote social interaction. These gatherings offer excellent opportunities to meet new people and strengthen existing relationships.
Recognise Achievements: Acknowledge your coworkers' accomplishments and celebrate their successes. This demonstrates your support and reinforces a sense of camaraderie.
Establish Interest Groups: Initiate clubs or groups around shared hobbies or interests. These activities offer a platform to connect with like-minded coworkers and form lasting friendships.
Plan Off-Site Activities: Propose social events outside the office environment, like dinners or outings. These occasions allow for conversations beyond work-related topics, further solidifying relationships.
Create a Chatroom: Utilise company communication tools to initiate discussion channels based on shared interests. This promotes engagement and the exchange of experiences and opinions.
While workplace friendships can be a sensitive topic, they offer valuable benefits that should not be overlooked. Employing these strategies can help you build lasting, meaningful connections with colleagues. Remember, it's essential to find a balance between personal and professional boundaries, ensuring that workplace friendships enhance rather than hinder your overall work experience.