Since the start of the pandemic, teleworking has become more democratic. While some people are happy to no longer have to make long journeys during rush hour, others regret the moments shared with colleagues over coffee or lunch. Sometimes it’s hard to keep in touch with those friends from work. However, such a link is beneficial to your well-being and your professional performance.
Shasta Nelson, author of The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of Our Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time explains that “the workplace is the easiest place to make friends. It’s also where most friendships end, once people change jobs. ” Weaker than friendships established outside the professional circle, these relationships are called “friendships of convenience” by Ho Kwan Cheung, lecturer in psychology at the State University of New York at Albany. “This is the person we talk to when we take a coffee break, or with whom we go to eat. The one who is quickly available when you have a problem, since her office is next to ours. ” According to Shasta Nelson, these kind of work friendships quickly fade when people don’t share experiences outside of the office.
However, there are several reasons why we should invest in our friendly relations at work. Having friends in the office shouldn’t be seen as a distraction that keeps us from doing well. On the contrary, it allows some employees to develop a sense of belonging and happiness at work.
According to a study, having colleagues-friends is positive for our productivity. After polling more than 12,000 employees in the United States, Germany and India, consulting firm Boston Consulting Group found that more than half of people telecommuting during the pandemic observed a drop in their productivity in so-called collective tasks. Of those who felt less connected to their colleagues since they started telecommuting, 80% also felt they were less productive.
For Ho Kwan Cheung, “having good relations in the office is very important for his professional development”. While this does not always lead to better performance at work, being satisfied with your work environment would often lead to being a better collaborator. Leaving friendships at the office during this pandemic could therefore be a blow to your professional success.
According to Shasta Nelson, it is necessary to make some effort to be successful in maintaining your social life with colleagues even when you are telecommuting. For example, plan a lunch on the regular phone or meet every Monday morning on Zoom to tell you about your weekend.