Fostering workplace friendships in a work-from-home paradigm
Today’s workforce largely consists of GenX in key decision-making positions and millennials in growing roles.
As they spend a large part of their waking hours interacting with their colleagues, it is only natural that they seek meaningful friendships at work. This makes workplace friendships a positive influencer in driving an organisation culture.
It is observed that good camaraderie goes a long way in boosting employee satisfaction, contribution, and commitment to the organisation. It creates a sense of belonging, makes it fun to come to work, and positively impacts employee well-being.
People who have strong, positive workplace relationships tend to be more involved, more productive and enjoy a higher state of well-being. Many senior leaders who have been with a company for long, attribute positive work relationships as a defining aspect of the supportive and inclusive work culture fostered within the organisation.
Cognitive science demonstrates that people’s energy is contagious. When happiness and optimism is spread through relationships, productivity and value increase multifold. You will find instances of teams growing closer over a period and their bond helping them overcome tough project challenges.
It is not uncommon to see friends and close teams showing up to work in the same dress code or connect and socialise outside work. Initiatives like the buddy system, team outings, etc. organised by companies help foster these professional friendships further.
Professional well-being during COVID-19
Established workplace friendships can have a positive impact on employees’ emotional well-being especially during the current times when an overwhelming percentage of the workforce is working from home on account of COVID-19.
The new home-office paradigm can make employees feel disconnected as in-person office interactions have come to a zero. Organisations are addressing this by hosting virtual meetups and encouraging teams to digitally connect to socialise and discuss things outside work.
It is found that workplace camaraderie increases productivity as teams have a shared sense of purpose, mutual respect, and the determination to achieve desired outcomes. We find that involved and engaged employees often have one or more co-workers, with whom they share a good rapport.
This could either be an immediate team member or a colleague from a different horizontal. Within a team, the high degree of trust between managers and peers directly contributes to project success. There is always a desire to achieve goals and be acknowledged as a strong team.
Organisations also rely on teams with strong camaraderie to take up special projects as they have a good chance of achieving results faster than newly formed teams.
Maintaining workplace camaraderie
It is important that workplace friendships are understood and managed well. Occasional off-work catchups with co-workers in office can help employees discuss ideas, stay updated on what is happening within the organisation, seek informal feedback and sound off challenges.
However, it is imperative for employees to pick up hints when social interactions turn into distractions and start affecting productivity. At times, it could also get challenging to establish personal and professional boundaries.
Employees need to be mindful that they do not indulge in office gossip which can negate their credibility or image among colleagues. When one has a friend as a colleague or a team member, it becomes more imperative on their part to be cognizant of unconscious bias which may creep in and may sometimes go unnoticed.
The overarching principles that leaders follow in their communication style – data-based facts, transparent communication, clear roadmap for the team, etc. can help the team overcome any bias that may be assumed.
Demonstrate good leadership, communicate continued trust in your team members’ abilities and have frequent communication to avoid interpersonal conflicts in such situations.
In the end, when managed well, workplace friendships and close-knit teams definitely benefit an organisation. Companies should proactively foster camaraderie as part of the organisation culture.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)