When do you label someone as an acquaintance, and when is that person your "work friend"? A work friend is someone you have established a rapport with, and perhaps are very close to. You might even think of them as your best friend during the times you are at work. The only difference is that you only see this person at your job. You usually don't hang out with them after hours or on weekends.
Work Friends and Job Satisfaction
Work friends have proven to be very beneficial when it comes to job satisfaction. A survey from the Gallup Organization showed that those with a best friend at were:
- 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days
- 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development
- 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important
- 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work
- 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day
This evidence seems to prove that friends are crucial to work satisfaction. How then is a "work friend" different than a "best friend at work"? It's a matter of preference.
Best Friend at Work
Your best friend at work may be someone that you have known for years in a professional setting and yet do not interact with much in your personal life. This person is important to you (after all, you spend eight hours a day or more with them) but when work time is over, you both go back to your individual lives. You might refer to this person as your work friend, when in fact they are one of the best friends you have.
Unbalanced Work Friendships
Others might refer to someone as a work friend when they are new to a job, or when they are fairly good friends with someone in the office, but not best friends. Like any type of relationship, there might be one-side friendships involved with work friends, where one person thinks of the other as an important part of their life, while the other friend feels their relationship is convenient for the office only. If one person tries to push to make a work friend more of a friend "in real life," the result may be that the person pulls away because it goes against their perception of boundaries for office friendships.
Examples: "I've known Jerry for eleven years. I met him at work and he's one of my best friends."
"Phyllis? She's a work friend and makes my days go so much faster with her sense of humor."
"I don't know what John's home life is like. He's a friend at work but I do think he's a nice guy."