Today, there’s no longer a clear divide between work and life - but that may be for the best. Psychological research on boundary theory suggests that strict boundaries between work and personal life can be mentally taxing for employees to navigate, causing negative spillover effects on work performance and employee satisfaction. Instead, integrating the two can help to mitigate this fatigue.

One of the most important ways we can unify work and life in a meaningful way is to build genuine workplace connections, such as having a friend at work. Cultivating a workplace friendship extends  beyond professional tasks and responsibilities. From receiving a simple greeting at the door to having lunch together, having work friends is an important part of our daily routines, providing us with vital social support and encouragement when our workloads get especially tough.

As we spend almost eight to 12 hours a day with our colleagues, it's evident that nurturing our social well-being at work is a key factor in both our personal and professional fulfilment.

From boosting our creativity to helping us de-stress, this article delves into the compelling reasons why having a friend at work isn't just a nicety, but a strategic advantage that shapes the ways we experience and excel in our professional lives.

the importance of workplace friendships: giving people true purpose at work

People need more than just a pat on the back and a hefty paycheck to feel invested and motivated in their work.

Employees today are highly driven by factors such as having a positive work-life balance and great workplace relationships. In fact, the Randstad Employer Brand Research revealed that 96% of Malaysians consider strong workplace relationships the most important non-monetary benefit at work. This research points to how a positive workplace culture is key for an employee’s engagement levels and happiness at work.

workers are motivated by having good work relationships
workers are motivated by having good work relationships

Having valuable workplace friendships can give people a sense of belonging and purpose, empowering us to be productive, profitable and engaged at work - to a significant degree. Gallup has even found that those who say they have a best friend at work are 7 times more engaged than those who don’t.

Here are some of the core benefits of workplace friendships:

1. having friends at work strengthens job satisfaction and productivity

Having a real and dependable friend at work paves the way for greater workplace productivity and genuine job satisfaction beyond the confines of our tasks and projects. When you enjoy the company of your colleagues and have quality relationships with them, you're more likely to stay motivated, engaged, and committed to your career.

Work friends can help you combat feelings of isolation and loneliness that can often accompany long hours in the workplace. Having workplace buddies to talk to and connect with makes the work day go by faster, as it’s a lot less mundane and a lot more fun. Your friends are also a necessary source of emotional support during stressful times.

Celebrating professional achievements and milestones with work friends is also a heartwarming and fulfilling experience that contributes to your sense of belonging at work. Apart from receiving recognition for your hard work, these shared successes can lead to a sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction.

2. workplace friendships help our career development

Meaningful friendships at work are an essential building block in your career development, especially if you have a variety of friends with whom you can explore learning and mentorship opportunities. Having different friends who have varied expertise can provide you with the insights and connections you need to further your career development and grow your skills in the company.

Trusted work friends can serve as mentors or offer guidance. They may share their experiences, insights, and advice, helping you make informed career decisions and avoid potential pitfalls. You could also find some friends at work to attend training courses together, which will make the learning experience even more enjoyable.

Additionally, work buddies may offer praise and recognition for your contributions and growth. This can enhance your reputation and your visibility within the organisation, increasing your chances of being considered for promotions and leadership roles.

what are the benefits of having a friend at work
what are the benefits of having a friend at work

3. work friends strengthens team dynamics and collaboration

In our hyper-digital age, employees are used to operating on a hybrid work model and collaborating remotely with regional and global teams. For individuals who are often physically distanced, establishing strong relationships and fostering social interactions with their colleagues is essential. It not only enhances productivity but also promotes a sense of accountability at work among team members.

Connecting with our colleagues starts with some much-need face time - whether that’s via Zoom, Google Meets or in person. Rather than relying solely on text chats, co-workers may need to put in time to talk to each other through video calls or online team bonding sessions. Having those essential dialogues can remove the ambiguity that comes with texts or emails, allowing us to get to know each other in real time.

When we’re able to have regular check-ins, we remind each other of deadlines, brainstorm ideas together, and collaborate to find the best solutions for even the most difficult tasks. Working towards shared goals in a supportive and trusting environment gives us the stability and peace of mind to accomplish tasks without a fear of negative repercussions.

choosing your ideal company culture

Having a partner in crime at work is important for our mental-wellbeing and purpose, but how do we navigate entirely new work environments to find the right friends? When applying for jobs, here are some questions to ask during the interview to find out whether you’ll fit into the team and company culture.

  • What are some of your team-building activities, both within and outside of work hours? 
  • How do you handle conflicts or disagreements between team members at work? 
  • Are there any mentorship or buddy programmes to help new employees integrate into the organisation?
  • What values or principles does the company prioritise, and how do those values translate into daily work and decision-making?
  • Could you share an example of a recent project or initiative where teamwork and collaboration were crucial to its success, and how the team worked together to achieve this?

find your dream workplace and career with us

Building relationships at work are essential to our growth as professionals, but more than that, they’re integral to our joy and fulfilment in the workplace. Having a social network to rely on at work - for friendship, creative ideation and collective problem-solving - ensures that we have opportunities for improvement and ensures we never feel isolated.

Fostering good relationships with coworkers starts with finding the right job and workplace. If you’re looking for a healthy work-life balance and supportive environment that’s more your speed, where you feel comfortable bonding with your colleagues, take a look at our job offerings and apply for a job. Randstad’s dedicated recruitment specialists are excited to connect you with the right career choice and  company culture for you.

If you’re planning the next step in your career roadmap, head to our career advice hub for invaluable information on how to make the best decisions for your career advancement journey.

related content:

find your ideal employer.

browse jobs

refer a friend to us.

our referral programme