Having friends in the office can be great but how do you maintain a balance of friendship and professionalism?

Friendship fundamentals: Tips for workplace relationships

Friendship is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Some argue that these relationships are the foundation of a happy existence. Turns out, workplace relationships are key drivers of engagement and overall productivity.

According to Gallup's Q12 workplace evaluation, employees that claim to have a best friend in the office are more engaged than staff members without in-office companions. Over 50 per cent of respondents that reported having a best mate at work were engaged. In comparison, only 10 per cent of participants without a best friend at work claimed to be engaged in the office.

Workplace friendships are also helpful with employee retention – 75 per cent of respondents with a best friend planned to stay with their company for at least another year compared to 51 per cent of those without a close colleague.

Having friends in the workplace is good for business.Having friends in the workplace is good for business.

Managing workplace relationships and professional boundaries

A report by Globoforce echoed these findings. Engagement, workplace loyalty and overall contentment rose considerably with friendships in the office.

"There is a significant difference in having even just one friend," the report noted.

"Those who do not feel connected to their organisations through their co-workers appear to be disconnected from their organisations in every way. Those with many friends are much more deeply connected to their companies, and indeed are almost three times more likely to say they love working there."

Workplace friendships require a delicate balance of professionalism and fun.

Clearly friendships in the office can have a positive impact not only on the soul but on core business functions as well. So – what's the catch? When it comes to forming friendships in a professional setting you need to make sure you strike a delicate balance. While camaraderie is delightful, there needs to be a give and take between appropriate office behaviour and friendships. Here are some quick tips for finding that balance:

1. Establish boundaries

According to Office Team, a global staffing service, it's important to establish what can be discussed at work and what is off limits. As your friendships evolve, you'll more likely than not learn personal information about your colleagues. Steer clear of deep conversations inside the office, save those discussions for outside of the office. By establishing these boundaries early on you'll be better equipped to compartmentalise your friendships into appropriate categories.

2. Don't be cliquey

An office should never feel exclusive. Having friends doesn't mean you should be letting off a cliquey vibe. Be inclusive with all your employees during work hours. Just because someone doesn't exactly fit the bill as a friend doesn't mean you should make them feel like an outsider. By being more inclusive you will avoid a lot of the conflicts associated with office friendships.

Workplace friendships shouldn't feel cliquey.Workplace friendships shouldn't feel cliquey.

3. Above all, be professional

At the end of the day you just need to remember to be professional when it comes to workplace friendships. These relationships can be a source of great joy but you are still at the office. Be mindful of your surroundings and use your best judgement to determine what's appropriate and what isn't.

Conducting yourself professionally can be a fine line. There are a lot of moving parts to workplace conduct. Here at Implement we offer online refresher courses about what goes into acting like a professional. Want to learn more? Head on over to our courses page today!