Engagement + Marketing

Friends at Work

Having a friend at work can boost productivity.

I’ve made two big moves in the last ten years, first from Oklahoma City to Silicon Valley, and then from Silicon Valley to New York City. Both times, it’s been hard to leave jobs and houses — I still miss our front porch swing next to the honeysuckle vine back in Oklahoma, and keep buying rosemary-mint soap because it reminds me of weeding my garden in California.

But I knew both times that — by far — what I would miss the most were my friends. Not just intimate, talk-until-2-in the morning friends, but my work buddies. People whom I could depend on to make me laugh, give me sound advice, and to be generous about sharing the currency of any workplace: information. And who, in turn, looked to me for the same things.

Tom Rath’s book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, confirms for me what I already had learned about friends in general: the quality of our friendships are the best predictors of daily happiness and life satisfaction.

But I was surprised to learn how important our work buddies are to the quality of our work:

Rath found that people who have a “best friend” at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. They also have fewer accidents, more engaged customers, and are more likely to innovate and share new ideas. Close friendships at work boosts employee satisfaction by almost 50 percent.

I think that sheds light on why meetings are so important. We go to learn new things, but we also to make new friends and to reconnect with old ones. Friendship is not just a frill, it’s vital to our happiness and success.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.