In Britain, 58% of people have close work friends. While in America the statistic is a sad 19%. Nowadays we spend more time with our colleagues than our families, housemates or “real friends.”

We work together, eat together and sometimes even commute together. So why don’t more people have a work best friend?

Why more people don’t have a work best friend

People love the idea of remote working – working from home, travelling with work and having the option of flexible working hours. People also have more job opportunities than ever before and as a result, switch jobs more now.

These are all positive aspects of our current economy, but if we’re always on the move it can be difficult to build real relationships. We’re also busy. In a recent Cpl survey, 25% of people stated time pressure as their primary work challenge, so in many cases maybe there’s just not enough time to delve deeper than “good morning” or “how was your weekend?”

Another viable reason is the fact that some people just prefer to maintain a professional distance. Many don’t like to skew the lines of respect or risk being too open out of fear information said in confidence will be used against them. All understandable when the main goal at work is to learn and do our jobs well.

Although there are no firm statistics on work best friends in Ireland, from my own experiences Irish workers seem to get along and socialise both in work and out of work.

Creating “work friends” Whatsapp groups, becoming Facebook friends, going for meals and drinks and even holidaying together are all now pretty common, especially in younger generations – which can be beneficial for employees social lives and professional lives.

Benefits of friendships at work

Friendships at work should be high on your list of professional priorities. Naturally enough if you like the people you work with you’re going to be:

Having work friends could also mean your chances of promotion are higher, as 50% of employers still believe ‘who you know’ makes a difference when it comes to promotions.

Relationships are important for our health and recent studies have shown friends who you see often, such as those at work, have much more influence on your wellbeing than a friend you rarely see.

The opposite is also true, so if you don’t get along with your team it’s likely to stress you out and make you less happy.

Other studies have shown that people who have a “best friend at work” are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job, more productive overall and less likely to leave their job.

A win, win for employees and employers, who often try and encourage friendships with team lunches or in-office extras such as communal spaces to eat and ping pong tables.

Lately, there’s been talks of moving the statutory retirement age in Ireland to 70, which means our generation will be working more than ever before.

To keep ourselves motivated and happy it’s worth investing in work relationships and that work best pal that you can count on, in and out of the office.

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