Spanista » Self Care Rituals, Reflections & Resources for Joyful Living by Ginny Shiverdecker

Do Friends at Work Matter?

Dear Wellness Seekers,

Do Friends at Work Matter? This Opinion Article ‘Friends at Work? Not So Much’, featured in the NYTimes Sunday Review by Adam Grant a professor at University of Pennsylvania and a Martin Prosperity Institute fellow reveals this latest insight.
His article explores the shifting landscape of relationships in today’s modern office environment. Adam Grant offers, “Once, work was a major source of friendships. We took our families to company picnics and invited our colleagues over for dinner. Now work is a more transactional place. We go to the office to be efficient, not to form bonds. We have plenty of productive conversations, but fewer meaningful relationships.”
He reports in 1985, about half of Americans said they had a close friend at work; by 2004, this was true for only 30%. But he does not offer any more current data. Frankly, Spanista projects today it is under 20%. It appears we feel it is less important to work where you can make friends so the theme is “We are increasingly working alone” per Jeffrey Pfeiffer, a professor at Stanford.
Spanista wonders how sad is this? The reasons for this shift are predictable like flex time for workers, dominating impact of social media and now each job is seen as a stepping stone to the next, therefore why invest time in creating personal connections? This triggers thoughts of my career time  working for a very large global marketing firm on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. I cannot help recalling the big push to move away from private office spaces and cubes to an ‘open bull pen’ concept. The logic was this would breakdown the silos. And it would increase bonding and interaction thereby increasing teamwork.
I see this concept in many offices I visit today, including my prior employer’s. Funny thing is, I observe so many workers sitting face to face with earbuds in to block out the person next to them. My wonder is, why would this office design trend not lead to the bonding it was purported to deliver?  But its appears open seating may have the opposite effect?  Is it taking away the natural curiosity about co-workers because now almost every habit of your colleagues is out in the open! Where is the mystery in finding about others?
Do Friends at Work Matter? Spanista encourages Wellness Seekers to see the bigger picture of relationships at the office. There are two major benefits to investing time in relationship building at the office that should not be ignored:
1. It has been proven in many studies that when you cultivate a deep friendship at work – you are indeed happier with you work and your life overall. This alone would prove to be worth the effort as a means of proactive Self Care.
2. Over a career life time, the office inspired relationships you sustain can be the richest of relationships. And they can become the lifeblood of your network support system. One of the biggest benefits of building key relationships is connecting deeply with all kinds of people. They can offer the feeling of continuity in a protracted world. And you can turn to them when you need perspective or support. Believe me, everyone needs this now and then. Even more rewarding is you can be there for them when they need you. It is worth investing time into a couple of valued relationships at each company you work with that you take with you once you leave. If you are shortsighted in this critical human dynamic you will indeed find yourself one day ‘working alone’.  Give it some reflection time.
What is your opinion on this?
To Your Self Care Journey To Joy,



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