Work Friends

For nearly three years, I have been self-employed and working 100% remotely, an arrangement largely driven by the pandemic. However, on Thursday I started a new job and did something that felt foreign in many ways; I went to the office.

My new role is hybrid, so I’ll be onsite a couple of times a week and otherwise will work from home. During my job search, I had considered fully remote work with its many upsides: no commute, laundry between meetings, and availability to drive my sons to their after-school games and practices. But then I thought about how important my work relationships are to me. Connections formed in hallways and before meetings begin. These are times when interactions become more personal. You can chat with colleagues and learn the names of their favorite pets or hear about their dream vacations.

Not only do work friends bolster emotional and mental health, but they are also incredibly important for employee engagement. Companies impacted by the “Great Resignation” are starting to recognize how much work friendships matter. An August Harvard Business Review article cites the April 2022 Gallup survey that found “employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged at their job.”

During the pandemic, some companies tried having Zoom happy hours to make up for informal hallway meet-ups. It wasn’t the same, and organizations are struggling to find the balance between requiring some form of on-site work and allowing remote work to continue.

The research seems clear: friendships in all facets of life are important to our health and wellbeing. Over the years, Sara and I both have accumulated friends who we’ve met at our jobs and who have become lifelong friends. To get a sense for the role work friendships have played in your lives, we invite you to share your experiences with us by clicking on this very brief survey about your experiences with work friendships.

We hope you’ll participate, and we plan to share our survey results with you in a future post. All survey data is being collected for our research purposes only and any information collected through the survey will remain confidential. Thank you!

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