We all spend a lot of our time at work, and even if you’re lucky enough to love your job, you still need something special to help make that time more enjoyable. What you really need is a work friend. Scientific research has shown that not only does it help you to have a better time when you’re there, it can also make you more productive, so it’s also good news for your employers.
Here’s everything you need to know about work friends and how to make them:
Why work friends are a good idea
A Gallup poll found that having friends at work can boost work satisfaction by 50%, which is great news for you and for your employer’s retention rates. But the even better news is that it’s also good for your health, with Harvard researchers proving that loneliness can cause heart attacks or strokes, so you need to avoid spending 8 hours a day feeling lonely. Socializing can also improve your cardiovascular functioning and lower your levels of stress.
From a purely professional perspective, having a work friend might seem like a potential distraction, but research by MIT has shown that chatting can actually make you MORE productive. It can also boost your resilience, with 75% of employees saying that having a best friend at work made them feel more able to take on any challenges.
How to make work friends
So now you know that having a friend at work is a good thing, but how do you go about actually achieving this? After all, it can be hard enough making a real friend outside of work, never mind trying to become close to people you only share a workspace with because you all need a job and just happened to end up at the same company.
Luckily, there are ways that you can go about it without being too much of a distraction from what you’re being paid to do. The first step is an easy one, which is to try and find common ground with them, which should come up in any casual chats you have about the latest hot show on TV, what they did at the weekend/what their plans are for the weekend, and safe topics like that.
If you’re feeling brave, you can invite them for lunch so that you have the chance to get to know them away from work. Following them on social media is also a good way to get closer to them, though this is a potentially risky move if you judge it wrong and come across like a stalker, so maybe check that they’re connected to other co-workers before you make your move.
If those last two sound a bit too forward for you, there’s potential for social interactions within the workplace routines too. Going on work social events gives you the chance to get to know people you don’t normally get to talk to, and it might also be worth joining any cross-departmental teams, which not only helps you meet new people but also demonstrates your enthusiasm and commitment to the business.
Finally, just being a nice, kind and considerate person is an excellent way to make friends, wherever you are. Being someone who is always there to help a colleague is the kind of thing that makes you popular while making the effort to remember birthdays and work anniversaries also shows that you value them enough to take that step.
Following these steps will help you make friends with people from work and start to reap the benefits for your happiness, health and career prospects that having work friends can bring you. So why not get started today?
About the author: John Cole is a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specializing in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK, and the Balkans.