Why Having Friends At Work Is A Really Big Deal
Working nine to five sure is a way to make a living. A tough one at that. Walking into the same place every single day and completing variations on similar tasks can crush your soul a little if you’re not careful. It’s why we stress the importance of looking out for yourself during the work day, and to look at your job within the bigger framework of your life, rather than placing too much importance on it.
But there is a guaranteed way that your everyday work life will suck a little less. Even on days where it seems like absolutely every single person in your office/site/class room/et al is out to get you. It’s by finding buddies.
Remember when you started primary school or high school and you were given a buddy to help you transition into the frightening new world? It surprises me that most workplaces don’t utilise the same system. Having someone on your side makes every single daunting situation less daunting.
But having work friends? There are some 100 per cent, factual reasons why it will make your entire life — not just working life — infinitely happier. Here they are.
#1 You have someone to eat lunch with
Remember in Mean Girls where Cady circles the lunch area like a lost puppy that no one claims, and then has to slink into the bathroom stalls to eat her sad little sandwich by herself? It quite literally makes my eyes well up with tears. It feels so real.
There’s nothing worse than feeling like you don’t have your people. Or there’s nobody waving you over to join them. In fact, studies have shown that work satisfaction rises by 25 per cent when you have someone to sit with at the lunch table.
#2 You get a real friend out of it
While work friends and real friends seem to operate in two different life hemispheres, once in a while you’ll find a person that makes the transition. I’ve met some of my greatest friends through work. And the statistics back it up, too. You’ll make 1/3 of all your adult friendships at work.
It’s hard to make friends outside of school and uni. That’s because it’s only in specified circumstances like work or study that meaningful bonds are ripe for creation. Make the most of the ones you can.
#3 You’re better at your job
While your boss may think that your discussion of last night’s Bachelor episode is slacking off, it’s actually crucial for employee productivity.
Catherine Baab-Maguira wrote for Quartz about the importance of hanging out with your work buds and shooting the shit. She says, “When your work situation is chill and friendly, you work better… The outcome of the hang is that rare form of inspiration—the genuine kind that’s got nothing to with motivational quotes or the stilted, compulsory exchange of meetings and conferences. The kind that only grows out of respecting another person’s brain and liking the way it works.”
I can vouch for this experience wholeheartedly. I’ve got a really tight-knit group of pals at work and we often find ourselves chatting about TV, what’s woke/unwoke, different ways to save money or a family drama for a significant period of our days. And while it’s in time that’s “technically work hours”, it keeps us motivated to keep going and get stuff done. And boy, do we.
#4 They’re better than a pay rise
Happiness can be valued in terms of economic worth. As Emily Esfahani Smith outlined it in the Atlantic, “If you have a friend that you see on most days, it’s like earning $100,000 more each year.” And the friends we see most days are our work buddies.
If we measure our life by happiness — which, we all should, right? — it’s literally worth more to invest in work friendships than fight tooth and nail for a raise (although, do that too).
#5 You have a pack
Humans are hard-wired to be social. It’s the reason our brains are the biggest in relation to our body size in the entire animal kingdom. Feeling like you don’t fit in at work has more of an impact than you realise. Esfahani Smith touched on this too by writing, “Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there.”
Thousands — millions? — of years ago when we were mere cavepeople hunting in packs, we formed friendships over the shared goal of finally catching that wildebeest. Or, you know, whatever it is that cavepeople hunted for. It’s no different today. We’re more useful in packs, working towards a common goal. We’re not wired to go it alone.
So if you’re ever wondering how much work friends really matter in the bigger picture. The definitive answer is: a hell of a lot.
(Lead image: Comedy Central)