Should There be Limits to Office Friendships?

Science says the more time we spend together, the more likely we are to become friends. So naturally that would mean that most of us, at least those who work in traditional careers, will at some point become friends with a co-worker. When working at a startup like us, (lucky ducks we are!) this is even more likely because teams tend to be small and a core element to the company’s survival. In many instances this can be awesome and lots of people have written about close, caring teams that turn out really impactful work. I mean, who doesn’t want to work at Teen Vogue at the moment? From the looks of Editor in Chief Elaine Welteroth’s IG Stories, “there’s no place like Teen Vogue.”

But.

Many of us have been on the other side of this where personal relationships wreak havoc in work settings. Office politics takes on a whole new meaning when co-workers start having, ahem…sleepovers. Maybe we’re not experts on all things friendship, but we are in the business of helping people establish genuine relationships and know that for coworkers, work is a pretty important shared interest. When teams start to resemble varying iterations of Mean Girls (and Boys) you know things have gone too far.

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Cassie from FL says*

At my last job, two co-workers were obviously in a relationship. Things were fine at first but after a few months, pretty much everyone on the team could tell when the two were at odds. There were audible, verbal fights between them, really long lunch breaks and a general lack of cohesion. Also, if one of the pair had it out for anyone else on the team, it was almost certain that they both would take the same side and productivity suffered. It was generally pretty awkward whenever they were around.

Nicole from NY says*

In one of my first jobs I worked with an amazing group of women I’m still in touch with on social. We’ve all moved on in different directions with our careers and lives but I still think back on how fun going to work was because of our group. We got a lot of work done too, but there was no work without laughter because we all just meshed so well together.

As a rule of thumb, there are two main areas to give attention to if you are the type to seek out BFFS in the boardroom.

1. Productivity

I’m going take a guess and say that after your team’s output, your boss cares most about her bottom line. When last night’s “This Is Us” episode gets more attention than editorial updates, you’ve crossed the line from water cooler chat to a bonafide break. Checking in from time to time with your friends at work is cool and for those of us who’ve mastered multi-tasking, maybe you can have a full fledged conversation while writing copy, but many people require minimal distractions to efficiently get work done.

2. The Vibe

If you and your office squad tend to be the type to “turn up” together (YAS QUEENS) then it may be a good idea to plan weekly lunches together or some other non-work related activity where you can all be your amazing, hilarious, cool selves. If you and your (office) boo like PDA, mmmkay. However, physical contact can be questionable in the workplace thanks in large part to a little department called HR. If your company is so small that there is no HR, chances are you’re still going to want to pull back on puckering up at your desk if your display of affection makes fellow employees uncomfortable.

Whether or not you choose to indulge in office friendships is ultimately up to you and depends on the unique set of people that make your company, big or small, tick. What works in some environments could be completely inappropriate in others.

What do you think about friendships in the workplace? Tell us in the comments!

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Got a story about friendship that you’d like to share? Email us at hello@friendishapp.com. We can’t wait to hear from you!