When we begin a new job, we tend to focus on details like the new desks, the new routine, the new workload, etc. But there’s one vital element that shouldn’t be overlooked: work friends.
Usually, we think of work friends as the people we chat with during breaks, but they actually do so much more than that. Kind and loyal coworkers can sometimes make or break a job experience. And when they make it, they really make it. They are the ones who make you smile when you arrive in the morning, even before you had your morning cup of joe. They are often the first people you tell when you have good news, and they are right there to celebrate with you. And they somehow ease the stress of the 9–5.
The Benefits of Work Friends
There’s a reason why many businesses try to promote a social and collaborative work environment. Employees with close work friends are more likely to feel healthier and happier, as well as seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. Additionally, they have report higher levels of productivity and job satisfaction than those who don’t have work relationships. This makes sense, after all, most people spent most of their days at work, AKA most of their social time. 
“One of the most important things to have in the workplace is a close relationship,” Jason Nazar, CEO of Comparably, a job site. “So very often, the largest source of stress for people is a boss, co-worker, or the day-to-day pressures of work.”
“The fact that more than half of employees we surveyed have a best friend at work is a good sign,” Nazar adds. “Having someone there to go through the good times and bad experiences with you is invaluable.” 
“How are you doing?”
So the next time a coworker asks how you are, don’t just respond with, “Good. How are you?” Take the opportunity to slowly build communication and see where it goes. Creating relationships takes conscious effort, even for the people at the desk across from yours. However, the proximity and the long hours help your chances of finding work friends who are equally interested in you.
Once you get talking, you may find common interests, which can really help cement a bond. It could be something as simple as enjoying the same kind of tea, which inspires you to take breaks together to enjoy a fresh brew. 
Friendships could be hard to build, especially as an adult when time is limited and social time even more so. This makes the workplace one of the best places to give friendship-making a shot. And for good reason.
You won’t have to worry about taking a coffee or lunch break alone with reliable work friends. After the quiet humdrum of work, you get to break the silence with some conversation to lift your spirits. This could help make a dreary day less tedious; after all, you know who to vent to about the workload or a difficult task. And despite the pitfalls of the job, you are reassured because you have people who care about you and whatever you are going through. Especially because they are only a desk away, they could understand some of your worries and frustrations more than anyone.
Friends for Life
Best of all is when “work friends” become “friends friends.” These are the people who’ll drink with you after work or accompany you to a fun event. They’ll be invited to special occasions like birthdays and weddings, not out of courtesy but because you want to share your joy with them. And when you see them at work the next day, they carry the fun and celebration into what could have been another dreary workday.
Don’t think you are “too career-focused” to make some social connections at work. In fact, these friendships will help you be a more productive worker. And a much happier one. 
Happiness expert and Fortune 500 adviser Annie McKee advises people to “find someone who you can really talk with, who can really tell you the truth about what they see in you, whether it’s the strengths or some developmental areas they see in you.
“Connecting with people boosts our mood and our morale, and friendships provide us with the emotional and psychological strength to deal with whatever comes our way — whether an exciting opportunity, a challenge, or a crisis.”
Keep Reading: Hugging is The Most Beautiful Form of Communication
- “Having Work Friends Can Be Tricky, but It’s Worth It.” Harvard Business Review. Emma Seppälä, Ph.D. and Marissa King. August 8, 2017
- “Why having friends at work is so crucial for your success.” CNBC. Zameena Mejia. March 30, 2018
- “True Friends at Work.” Harvard Business Review. Alison Beard. July–August 2020
- “Why We Need Best Friends at Work.” Gallup. Annamarie Mann. January 15, 2018