Having a solid work crew plays a big role in your workplace happiness. It’s not just enjoying lunch together or having someone to go for coffee with—having a good support network actually makes us more productive, particularly in startup land.
While we’re often warned of the dangers of blurring the personal with the professional, in reality not developing friendships at work can be more detrimental to our success.
For one thing, our work friends act as wonderful stress relievers. They allow us to test the waters with certain ideas or problems without the fear of being shot down or ridiculed. When we need a second opinion, a bit of reassurance, or even a reality check, they’re there for us. Being able to talk openly at work in this way stops us from feeling isolated and decreases stress. If you’re in a naturally high-pressure environment, having a confidant can be the difference between excelling in your role and sinking beneath the weight of it.
Research by careers marketplace Jobbio shows that more than 33% of people believe their colleagues are the most important support when dealing with stress and other issues.
Work friendships are also the ultimate basis for teamwork. When you enjoy being around your colleagues, you’re more likely to work better together. You have a deeper understanding of each other’s work styles and personalities and this leads to more collaboration and higher productivity.
The truth is we work harder for people we like—people we can identify with on a human level and not just a professional one. In this way we’re more inclined to go above and beyond when it comes to taking on extra projects, covering more hours, or generally picking up the slack outside our job description. “A friend in need,” as they say.
In addition, people who have strong friendships at work are more invested in the company overall. They’re more engaged with developments outside their own department, and so communicate better across the board. They feel invested in the organization beyond their own career progression, and that does wonders for productivity.
Work friends are crucial in our personal development, too. They build our confidence by offering support and reassurance in times of uncertainty and by providing informal feedback you can’t get from a manager or boss. The friends we make at work often give us a fresh perspective. Unlike our other friends, those made through work probably have less in common with us in terms of background, family structure, age, or shared interests. This diversity of thought is key in helping us broaden our horizons and expand on our way of thinking.