How to find an office friend

Anny Chih photo

By Anny Chih, 24 hours Vancouver

Being friends with the boss can have pitfalls.

Being friends with the boss can have pitfalls. (FOTOLIA)


You may not be performing optimally at work if you don’t have a best friend at the office. At least, that’s what management might take away from the latest Gallup research study findings on employee engagement. The ongoing study measures workplace elements which have been linked to business performance outcomes, including whether an employee has a best friend at work. A study participant who does not have a best friend at the office is considered less engaged and emotionally disconnected from their workplace, which is associated with lower-than-optimal productivity.

Of course, managers aren’t the only ones who benefit from workplace relationships. As BuzzFeed points out, there are at least “21 Joys of Having a Work BFF” — from having someone to bounce ideas off of to having a default lunch buddy. But before jumping on the social bandwagon to find your new water cooler companion, there are also at least three potential best friend criteria to consider which measure rank, personal sharing, and professionalism.

As much as many employees would love to be chums with the CEO, asking her to join happy hour with a team of entry-level assistants may result in awkwardness and future avoidance. If your workplace has a flat hierarchy or laidback culture, co-mingling among ranks may come naturally. Otherwise, executive, managerial, and entry-level staff generally don’t mix as easily and it may be better to start your search for a new best friend on your own level.

One of the reasons manager-staff socialization is limited is the danger of too much information. A manager may not want an employee to know something too personal in case it undermines feedback that’s given during a performance review. Likewise, an employee may not want a manager to know something private because it may affect whether they are given increased responsibilities or opportunities. The dangers of too much information can also be found among coworkers who have different levels of personal comfort with sharing, so it’s best to limit that sharing until comfort zones are clear.

Once colleagues are sufficiently comfortable with each other enough to call themselves friends, it’s important to keep that trust by staying professional regardless of what happens on a personal level. If you had a fabulous time drinking with your coworker the night before, that’s great, but the rest of the office doesn’t need to know. Like any other best friend, your work best friend should share core values about privacy and respect those standards at all times.


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