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A Guide to Workplace Friendships  
1/3/2012 2:56:25 PM

By Heather Huhman, Glassdoor.com

Most people spend at least 40 hours a week with their co-workers, so it is significant to have positive relationships with the people around them. According to a 2010 Randstad Work Watch Survey, 66 percent of working adults believe company culture is very important to the success of their organization.

The pros of workplace friendships seem to trump the cons. Another portion of the Work Watch Survey asks workers what they believe are the benefits of having workplace friends. Here are what a majority of the responses were:

70 percent believe they create a more supportive and friendly workplace.
69 percent think workplace friendships increase teamwork.
56 percent believes it increases workplace morale.
50 percent think workplace friendships increase knowledge sharing and open communication.
45 percent believe having friends at work increases job satisfaction.
36 percent think it makes employees more motivated.
36 percent believe workplace friendships reduce employee turnover.
32 percent think it creates stronger loyalty to the company/organization.
31 percent believe having friends at work increases employee engagement.
30 percent think it increases productivity and performance.

Therefore, according to these surveys, friendships in the workplace are a good idea…but rules need to be created and followed in order to remain professional. Here are some ways to create and maintain positive friendships at work:

Remain appropriate. Try not to share too much about your personal life with your co-workers. Telling a colleague about how drunk you got over the weekend can be off-putting, so avoid those conversations at the office. After all, your friendship should be on a more professional level.

Stay focused. Remember why you are there – to work. Your boss gives you deadlines for a reason, so it is crucial you don’t get distracted. Limit how much you converse with other employees, and find other times to socialize.

Speak wisely. Don’t gossip and talk badly about other workers. There is such thing as karma, and it will come back to get you — and could be worse than you expected. Plus, you never know who you can trust. Better to keep the conversations positive. In return, this will boost the workplace morale.

Set boundaries. The friendship you have with your boss should be different than the one you have with colleagues. This is why you should set boundaries for yourself. You don’t want to get into an uncomfortable situation.

Be mature. Everyone wants to believe they will never be involved in a workplace conflict, but it’s not realistic. While these situations happen, it is important you handle them maturely and with finesse. You don’t want an argument to ruin a friendship, or even worse – get you fired.

Go out after work to socialize. Many people believe work and personal life should be separate, but it never hurts to grab lunch or dinner with co-workers. This gives you an opportunity to socialize outside of the office without compromising your productivity.

What are some of your guidelines for workplace friendships? Do you think these relationships a good idea? Why or why not? Let us know below.

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