In the very early stages of my career, I used to have this strict rule that my personal life and my professional life remained undeniably separate. Looking back, that mentality was likely born from a variety of factors. I was still discovering who I was personally, I was extremely green professionally, and I was doing my best at navigating this new and unknown chapter of adulting. At that time, what I failed to realize is that developing meaningful connections with your coworkers, whether deep or shallow, can pay off in dividends. It’s okay to make friendships at work!
Your daily work life can become richer.
Establishing connections and creating friendships at work can make your job a lot more enjoyable. We spend such a significant portion of our waking hours at work that it’s only natural to want to form connections with the people we see day in and day out. Having a friendly rapport with your colleagues can make the workday feel less lonely and can help you feel more invested in the company’s success.
This holds true for both in-office and remote work lifestyles. Yes, being in person makes establishing these connections easier, but even in a hybrid or fully remote lifestyle, you can create these personal connections. With virtual lunches, morning coffee chats, or cocktail time at the end of the week, these small moments where team members can disconnect from work and reconnect as people can strengthen their bonds with one another and develop a sense of camaraderie among peers.
There are practical benefits to making personal connections.
Beyond just making work more pleasant, friendships with coworkers can also have some practical benefits. For one thing, having strong relationships with your colleagues can make you a more effective team member. When you know your coworkers well and trust them, you’re more likely to collaborate effectively and communicate openly. This openness can lead to better results for your project as well as establish a safe space for others within your team.
Additionally, friendships at work can be a great way to expand your professional network. You never know who might be able to help you down the line, whether it’s by connecting you with a job opportunity or introducing you to someone who can help with a project. By cultivating relationships with your colleagues, you’re building a web of contacts and resources that can be incredibly valuable over time.
Weigh the risk; you don’t have to be friends with everyone.
Of course, there are also some potential downsides to befriending your coworkers. There’s always the inherent risk that personal conflicts could spill over into the workplace and create tension or drama. Additionally, if you’re too friendly with your colleagues, it can be difficult to set appropriate boundaries between work and leisure time. You don’t want your work relationships to interfere with your ability to relax and recharge outside of the office.
Furthermore, you don’t have to be friends with everyone at your office. Be considerate of your own emotional and mental capacity for others. Not everyone at work will be a good fit for a friendship, and that’s okay. Focus on building relationships with the people who share your values, interests, and professional goals.
Find the balance.
So, how can you strike the right balance when it comes to friendships at work? One key is to be mindful of boundaries and keep your personal and professional lives separate to the extent that is healthy for you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with your colleagues without jeopardizing your sense of privacy and self. Lastly, avoid letting your work commitments interfere with your personal life. Your time is precious and should always be respected.
Ultimately, whether or not you decide to be friends with your coworkers is a personal decision that depends on a variety of factors. But if you do choose to cultivate friendships in the workplace, there are plenty of good reasons why it’s a smart move. Just be sure to stay mindful of boundaries, communicate clearly, and prioritize your own well-being along the way.