Are Work Friends Real?

Trends in research on effective team performance find that intra-group socialization (i.e. a few team members going to Starbucks for a coffee break or to work on a project together) can predict greater team success and output.  Other research shows that having even a single friend at work can have the same effect.  Even a warm exchange can boost a person’s output and work satisfaction for the day.
One common practice I see in executives is when they are somewhat socially isolated outside of work (i.e. single, divorced, widowed, new to a city, have few friends, etc.), they sometimes think of work friends as personal friends.  Occasionally this works out in the long run, but usually it is better for people to develop new personal friends outside of work.  If an individual does not separate personal friends from work friends, it can back fire in the workplace. At times, a personal discussion can make a work friend uncomfortable, or even cross a boundary. Personal information communicated at work could possibly generate gossip and can at times result in hurt and disappointment. Therefore, it is generally important to differentiate work friends and personal friends.  When an individual leaves a job, they may find that a work friend can transition into a personal friend. This is a terrific surprise when it occurs.
Therefore, it is vital to build and nurture both work and personal friends–separately.
Link: Friends at Work, Sept 6, 2015, NYTimes

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