So I talk a lot on here about work-life balance and also about finding the right work for you. Topics that I'm very passionate about and do very much believe in. However recent studies have shown that the key to a happy work life could be far more down to the friendships that you have, and nurture, in the working environment than perhaps we ever previously thought. If you think about it, that makes an awful lot of sense!
I must say, from my own experience, one of the things that I really miss now that I work at home alone, is the team environment. You can't beat the catch ups over a cup of tea in the kitchen and the office banter that comes when you work in an environment that you love and feel comfortable in.
Sometimes it's easy to get so involved in your workload that you forget to look up and have a chat with the people around you. Of course we can't be seen to spend ages chatting over coffee and not getting any work done! Yet those brief moments of laughter, the few minutes you take the time to ask how someones weekend was, the odd drink after work with your team, can do wonders for your emotional stability at work and has even been shown to increase our productivity.
A recent survey conducted in the US showed that nearly 40% of people identified their co-workers as their main reason for loving the company they work at. With well over 50% stating that these relationships had a positive impact on their productivity and quality of work as well as helping to reduce stress levels in the office environment.
It can be quite tricky to develop and grow office friendships. Especially if you're in a new job or a bit shy and find it easier to hide your head behind the computer screen. However in these circumstances (and I know from my own experience) pushing yourself to make a little effort, ask a few questions and take a bit of interest in those around you can be extremely rewarding and really make the working day much more interesting and enjoyable.
Little things like remembering to ask about a persons weekend, asking after their family and remembering to show some interest in their recent vacation can be a great way to start to develop a bond. Don't forget as well that people also enjoy being asked to share their expertise and this can be a great way to build up a working relationship. Ask questions and advice and be attentive and thankful when they offer up their knowledge.
Striking up friendships at work doesn't mean heading out to happy hour every night of the week but it does involve making a little effort. As we get older it does perhaps get a little harder for some of us to make new bonds, especially if we feel we're set with the friends that we already have in our lives. The thing is though that we spend much more time at work than we do, doing anything else so it makes sense to cultivate a happy environment with people in the office that you can share the day with.
So why not turn to the person next to you and see if they want to grab a cup of coffee and have a chat. You may be pleasantly surprised at their response for the grateful opportunity you've offered to take five minutes break away from the stress of the working day.
What do you think? Are friendships at work important and valuable to you?
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