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Science Confirms: Having Friends at Work Is Good For Us
Asana Recovery Weekly Team Update August 15, 2023
Having Friends at Work Is Good For Us. Here’s why and how.
Several recent studies demonstrate that having friends at work is good for us, according to NPR. It has benefits at work, including increased job satisfaction and engagement and better job performance - as well as improving our overall happiness.
“Team members who get along, cooperate as a part of a team and have respect for one another can form useful support systems that drive engagement, enhance collaboration, provide motivation and produce higher quality work,” according to the Indeed.com article, Pros and Cons To Consider When Becoming Friends With Coworkers.
Why Do Work Friendships Help Us Do Our Job Better?
The Indeed article lists many ways that workplace friendships can lead to better work performance and job satisfaction:
Trust. An integral part of being able to collaborate with others is having confidence in their work skills, their reliability and that you share a common goal.
Productivity. Instead of work friendships being a distraction, as is commonly believed, it can help workers feel more energized and better able to maintain productivity levels.
Engagement. Workplace friendships can offer you a sense of value and belonging and help make work fun. All these can lead to higher employee engagement.
Collaboration. Successful collaboration requires the incorporation of various perspectives, knowledge sets, and skills combined with high trust and low competitivity. “As friends, you and your colleagues may feel more comfortable sharing your opinions, offering expertise, and working together.”
Communication. Communicating effectively requires both practice and skills (which you can work to improve). Communicating regularly with your coworkers - whether during a friendly coffee or a team meeting - leads to more opportunities to practice.
Support. Everyone needs support for handling challenges, whether they’re working on their recovery or working for a recovery program! “By forming friendships with colleagues, you can develop a robust system of support that you can tap into when you experience stress, need help meeting deadlines, or have questions about certain components of your tasks.”
Higher quality of work. We feel a sense of responsibility for our job. We also feel a sense of responsibility to our friends. In both cases, we want to show up and give the best of ourselves.
How Do We “Do” Workplace Friendships?
While the benefits are many, workplace friendships are not without drawbacks. These can include increased distractions, stress from competing with each other, and less constructive feedback. Additionally, it can be challenging to achieve professional distance from work issues, establish a good work-life balance and ensure personal privacy.
Despite the drawbacks, most people agree that having work friends is incredibly important. But workplace friendships may not be as easy to build or ‘do’ as other more clearcut relationships - even for people who are naturally social.
According to the TIME article, Why Work Friends Are Crucial for Your Health, “the goal isn’t necessarily to make life-long friends—although it’s great if you do—but rather to foster “a sense of being in the right place” by becoming part of a community with a larger purpose, says Kim Samuel, author of On Belonging: Finding Connection in an Age of Isolation.
Tips for Fostering Workplace Friendships
“If you have a colleague who you like but don’t know very well, ask an appropriate personal question next time you bump into them, or check in with a teammate after a tense meeting. (The same message applies if you work remotely, Hadley says. (Constance Hadley, an organizational psychologist and lecturer at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business). Try calling a colleague to brainstorm, or asking someone for their thoughts on an assignment you’re working on.)” - Why Work Friends Are Crucial for Your Health
Start small. Even small talk can lead to an improved sense of well-being, and it has the added benefit of offering touchstones for future conversations - which is how we build relationships. It also requires practice. Like with baseball, you’ll have some strikes and some hits, and that’s how you get better.
Lean into your curiosity about your co-workers. Bring up things you notice about them or shared interests. "One of the things we know is that when we are curious about someone in a friendly way, it's flattering and it engages people in conversation," says Dr. Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest running studies on what makes humans thrive.
Make time to connect with coworkers. Make an effort for in-person socialization with one or more coworkers. This might mean setting up a lunchtime walk or coming into work on your off day to catch up with co-workers who aren’t on your shift. If you work remotely, start working at the office on a regular basis, whether it’s one day a week or one day a month.
Participate in company social activities. While some people approach employer-sponsored social activities with eye-rolling or nervousness, they help us connect with co-workers in a friendly way.
Compensate for the de-personalization of technology. If your position or your workplace relies heavily on technology for communication - whether email, text, company chat boards, IMs, or any other communication application - it can be hard to feel personally connected to coworkers. Putting in effort to make your messages more friendly-sounding can help, as does checking in with coworkers.
If you have insecurities about how your social efforts will be perceived, they’re probably unfounded. It turns out, most people are receptive and appreciative of well-intentioned friendly overtures.
One influential study found that people were happier when they chatted with strangers during their commutes by subway—an environment where people notoriously keep to themselves—versus ignoring those around them. That finding suggests people who make the first social move “are much more likely to be received positively than they are probably anticipating,” Heaney says. - Why Work Friends Are Crucial for Your Health
New Hire Spotlight
“I believe in second chances,” says Sheida Shavalian. “And I believe we all need some outside help sometimes.” It’s why Sheida, a therapist at Asana Recovery, got into the addiction recovery field.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Sheida enjoys traveling, watching movies, working out, and spending time with friends and family. She says she’s a good cook – and her dog agrees, so it must be true! A friend in Iran is looking after her dog, a golden retriever, for the time being, but Sheida hopes to bring him to the US soon.
Question: Name 4 characters from the American TV Series The Office.
Contact HR with your response for the chance to win a gift card!
Answer to last week’s trivia: The three main elements of time management are: Planning, Prioritizing, and Performing.
No winner last week.