Ever worried that you are getting too friendly with your co-workers? Well, don’t be…studies indicates that having work friends increases productivity. It seems a bit counter-intuitive; spending time at work gossiping and Gchatting isn’t exactly the stuff of productivity, but the way that friends work with each other produces better, more effective work than collaborations between co-workers with a solely professional relationship. Employees with a good friend at work are usually more focused, passionate, and loyal to their company.
There is even evidence to prove it. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology set out to find the effect of relationship level on group performances. Professors at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota broke up a large course into 53 three-person groups consisting of either three friends or three acquaintances. They then assigned the groups two projects, one based on decision-making and collaborative thinking, and the other based on using motor skills and performing manual labor. The groups of friends performed better on both projects because they were more committed, communicated better, and were able to give each other honest feedback. Individuals in the groups of acquaintances tended to work alone, weren’t comfortable seeking help, and didn’t offer feedback to other group members. Because of their lack of communication, they also weren’t able to take advantage of each other’s strengths.
Dr. Ron Friedman, author of The Best Places to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, also says that having friends at work can help improve your performance because more is on the line than feedback from your boss or an unhappy client — letting your friends down. With a friend at work, you are also a happier employee, and therefore less likely to leave your company. Friedman further points out that employees with no friends in the work place tend to perform poorly. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that employee loneliness leads to trouble focusing, weak individual contributions, and poor communication.
The next time you feel bad about taking a few minutes to vent about something with your close colleague— don’t! The time you spend building and maintaining friends at work is made up for with how these connections increase the quality of your performance. So go ahead and indulge in spending time chatting with friends at work— you're actually doing yourself and your company a favor.