The classic after-work drink with your officemates has been around for ages, but over the past few years, the idea of friendship in the workplace has ascended to new heights. Coworking spaces such as The Brew and collaborative company cultures like that of Google and Twitter are on the rise; social media allows us to monitor what our coworkers are doing 24/7. There are certainly benefits to be had by this increase in interaction among coworkers – research demonstrates that employees with close work friendships are 50% more satisfied and are more likely to be engaged in their jobs. However, it also begs an important question: are these close workplace friendships affecting professionalism? Here, we take a look at the dos and don’ts of office friendships, so you can enjoy your relationships with coworkers while remaining productive and engaged.
Do: Initiate one-on-one conversations
Start a conversation with one of your coworkers and you may realise you have more in common than you think. Perhaps you both love to cycle, or maybe you live in the same neighbourhood. Discovering these overlapping interests could lead you to meet up and hang out outside the office – but if nothing else, they create a positive bond that allows for more trust and camaraderie in the workplace.
Don’t: Exclude a coworker
If you do happen to form a close friendship with one of your coworkers, it’s important not to exclude anyone else in the office. You want your workplace to feel energised and improved by the friendships you create, and in order to do this, you have to ensure that you’re making an effort to be inclusive. Furthermore, gossiping or talking about other coworkers negatively is never a good idea, even if you’re confiding in your closest work friend.
Do: Celebrate outside the office with coworkers
Whether you work in a relaxed coworking space in Shoreditch or a sleek, buttoned-up office in Canary Wharf, at the end of a long week it feels good to round up your coworkers and head out for a drink to unwind. This can be a time to celebrate the gains your company has made over the week, and it is an opportunity to build relationships in a different setting.
Don’t: Take celebrations too far
When you’re having a good time with your coworkers, it can be easy to overdo things. Make sure to keep yourself in check – having one too many Pinot Grigiosand dancing on the table as your coworkers look on rarely leads to good things professionally.The key is to find the balance between having a fun time and staying on your best behaviour.
Do: Engage in office banter
Every so often, it can be good to lighten up the office atmosphere by sending around a funny meme or discussing the latest Game of Thrones episode. These little moments of banter allow the whole office to develop a sense of community, which can translate to more productivity in that big meeting later in the day.
Don’t: Become a distraction
If you’re constantly making jokes to your coworkers from across the room and messaging them a meme a minute, there’s a good chance you’re doing more harm than good. In fact, a survey by Think Money revealed that noisy office environments and loud colleagues are the top distraction in UK offices. Even if you don’t require a quiet workspace to be productive, some of your coworkers do – so be courteous!
If you work in any kind of shared office space in London,you’ll understand how powerful this new friendship-focused, collaborative working style can be. As long as you remember to maintain the professionalism that got you the job in the first place, reaching out to your colleagues, making friends and having fun at work can set you on a path towards the common goal of productivity.