Finding Friends at Work
Before I launched Impact Coaches, a work friend asked me if I wanted to be “Sandra Oliver” or “Sandra Oliver and Associates”. After doing performance management for many years in senior HR and business roles, my answer was pretty emphatic. “Definitely Sandra Oliver.”
Within two years of being on my own, however, I realized I couldn’t do it. I was too lonely. I didn’t have people around me to talk about work things. The challenges, personalities, and the highs and lows of work that we just can’t talk to our spouse or “home” friends about.
There’s unique value in friendships at work
It’s important to have friends at work who understand our situation – because they’re dealing with it themselves. People we can trust, who care about us, and who we can be totally honest with, without fear of retribution. It provides perspectives we can’t get from anyone else. And it fosters not only greater insights, creativity, and innovation, but more happiness, too.
Because there’s also the element of fun that spending time with work friends brings. If we just treat work as a place to complete tasks and earn money, it will eventually lead to dissatisfaction or burnout. Because we realize at some point that life is short.
Having friends at work we can hang out with on breaks, at lunch, or after hours builds vitality and resiliency into our days. It brings greater meaning to our work and creates a stronger connection to the organizations we contribute to.
Our days are too precious not to share them with friends
Since the pandemic, we’ve all missed out on work friendships. We’ve been trying to protect our work life balance so much, we’ve lost some of the fun and social connection that brings joy to our lives.
Organizations know that friendships and comradery at work have huge benefits. It’s why virtual coffee chats and online social gatherings became so critical during the pandemic. And it’s why they’re becoming popular again. With hybrid work arrangements and geographically dispersed teams, organizations are giving their people every opportunity to forge and maintain friendships at work.
In fact, at Impact we’re being asked to do a lot more group work than ever before, to help leaders build stronger, closer relationships with each other. We’re coaching group members to overcome challenges, develop greater understanding about each other, and connect in new and more effective ways. So they can better serve their teams and organization – but also have fun and enjoy their work a lot more.
If we want to get really good perspectives from people we understand and care about, and who understand and care about us – and be happier, more creative and innovative – we need to have friends at work. Our days are too precious not to share them with people who will be there for us and bring greater joy and fulfilment to our lives. And allow us to do the same for them.