Year after year, studies and reports suggest that a good work environment is one of the keys to professional happiness. There is often no better sign of a healthy work environment than coworker friends. If coworkers like each other well enough to form real friendships, chances are they like working together. While everyone should embrace being friends with their colleagues, there are certain unwritten rules to be mindful of.
There is no reason you should not get along with your coworkers. Most workplaces will encourage friendship and social interactions between employees. But when it comes time to work, it’s always important to remember that working relationships still take priority. This is especially true in friendships with bosses, managers, or executives. There is no rule against befriending your boss. However, you should always be mindful of what you say to them or how you act in their presence.
Even in the case of colleagues at work, it is important to remember to be professional while on the clock. Don’t play favorites or let your friendship with a coworker prevent you (or them) from getting work done on time.
Having coworker friends is almost always great for workplace morale. The exception to this rule is when coworker friends begin to form cliques. Nobody wants this, and you and your coworker friends should be mindful of not being too exclusive. This is not to say you should force friendships with everybody in the workplace. But you should at least make an effort to include everybody.
Initiate events that are open to everyone. Take some time to get to know as many of your coworkers as you can. Not only is this a good way to develop new workplace friendships, but it’s also great for morale and productivity. A strong workplace culture is often associated with productivity. Having a strong sense of community in the workplace can be a huge part of a healthy culture.
While being inclusive, remember to also be considerate of the lives of other coworkers. Not everybody comes from the same background or can participate in the same activities. Some of your colleagues might have families, which makes it more difficult for them to do activities outside of work. Consider arranging activities during lunch hours that they can be included in.
Some colleagues may also choose not to drink alcohol. If you and other coworkers occasionally go out for drinks after work, continue changing it up every once in a while. Find other activities that can be more inclusive for everybody.
Last, but certainly not least, is the golden rule of all relationships. Simply be yourself! When you are at work, you are expected to perform the role that is assigned to you. But this does not mean you need to act a certain way to “fit into” company culture. While professionalism is important, authenticity is, too.
Your workplace friendships will be a lot more meaningful if you are your true self in and out of work. Letting your coworker friends get to know you better will also be better for workplace productivity. As your colleagues learn your habits, preferences, and work style, you can build more trust and understanding between each other.
Building a strong workplace environment is something that every company should take seriously. At ASAP, we are always seeking ways that we can help the executive and administrative professional communities build workplace inclusivity. From professional development tools to building stronger connections in the workplace, there is much to be done to create thriving work environments.