When you spend most of your week with the same people, it’s almost certain bonds and friendships can form with some of them. Your workplace is no different from any other environment for buddy-building. In fact, your co-workers are prime friendship material. How can they not be? They relate to your day-to-day with the most profound understanding. Co-workers can sympathize with the stresses and pressures of work. They may also be exposed to some genuine, raw emotion that people outside of your workplace may never see. A workplace can take a toll on a person so it would be nice to have a cubical confidant, a paper-pushing posse, or maybe even a printer pal.
A friend at work can be your saving grace, or at the very least, friends can make time at the office more pleasant. However, overstepping boundaries with co-workers can cause some serious issues, whether if it’s a personal matter or company-wide debacle. In many cases, it may be necessary to establish friendships with boundaries within the work environment but at the same time, don’t prevent yourself from finding a friend within your company. Follow these tips and consider these questions to professionally and adequately manage your friendships within the workplace.
Setting boundaries may seem unnecessary, especially if a co-worker is trying to befriend you. However, boundaries are crucial for workplace friendships. It’s perfectly fine to socialize and get to know your co-workers, but the relationships that you have at work should not hinder your performance. Establish a mutual understanding that even if you are buddies while out for lunch, but once back at the office, you are committed to your work without any disturbance.
It’s pleasant to be friendly and inviting to those around you but think critically about whom you want to get know and what they get to know about you. If you know in advance of what you want to share, then you can create healthy boundaries right from the start.
AVOID WORKPLACE FRIENDSHIPS THAT CAN HARM YOUR CAREER
People who work so close together get to know each other on a deep level. This is where you should learn how to identify your coworkers and avoid toxic workplace friends. For example, we all have a friend or associate that cannot hold a secret, if this blabbermouth happens to be a co-worker, one slip of the tongue can be the difference between respect and embarrassment. Keep your personal details, and work secrets close, especially if you work with a social butterfly.
Another example of a workplace friend that you should avoid is the bad influencer. Although this coworker may seem fun with after work drink planning or taking an extra 20 minutes for lunch break, habits can form. The problem with this behavior is that it can become a workday ritual. This could reflect poorly on your work ethic, so take precautionary measures with this workplace entity and create limitations while around him or her.
MANAGING WORKPLACE ROMANCES
When you spend eight to nine hours a day with the same group of people, there’s a strong possibility of creating close bonds, on occasion, those bonds can evolve into something more. Romantically. Companies may frown upon office romances, but true love has no bounds, it can still form in the workplace. There is a right and wrong way to handle romantic relationships from both the employer and employee perspective.
As an employer, banning all in-office relationships may seem like the best solution to prevent a messy situation that can hinder your company’s image. However, this method doesn’t work. Time and time again this approach has failed, it just pushes the romance underground which does not help the situation, it may cause a worse outcome. Instead, an employer should enforce a clear policy that requires reporting of the workplace relationship to HR so that it can be monitored, and whoever is involved can be properly advised on how to represent themselves as a couple appropriately.
As for employees, check for regulations that your company may have about relationships in the workplace. The rules were created to avoid any issues that may arise from a conflict of interests. An example of this is the sharing of sensitive information when it very well should not be shared. Just keep in mind that if you start a relationship within the workplace, your company comes first. Establish guidelines and rules to follow on top of what your company enforces.
USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT
It is important to note that building relationships within a workplace is important. Given all the time spent in close vicinity to colleagues, it would be hard to imagine any kind of relationships not to be formed. Making workplace friends does not have to come at the expense of meeting goals at work. One study suggests that co-workers who share a bit about themselves and converse with nonwork-related topics creates a means for more collaborative, productive, and responsible work ethics. Another survey of global workers found that co-workers that discuss success with one another motivate their work efforts.
Don't be afraid to form new friendships within your workplace, as long as you set guidelines and it's not harming your company's policy, there is nothing to worry about. Make new friends and establish a healthy work environment.