SURVEY SAYS: Co-Worker Friends

We covered a survey in which 62% of employees said having co-workers who are friends outside of the office positively affects productivity.

In addition, professionals who feel they have good friends at work are 1.6 times more likely to be happy at work than those who don’t.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Do you have co-workers who are your friends outside of work, and if so, does this make your work day better?”

More than half (54.3%) of responding readers said they do have a co-worker or co-workers who are their friends outside of work, while 45.6% indicated they do not.

Slightly more than 45% reported that having co-workers who are friends outside of work make their work day better (more productive, happier), while 9.5% said it made their work day worse (less productive). More than one-quarter (26.2%) indicated that it depends on the day, and 19% said it has no effect on their work day.

While there were certainly comments from responding readers about the advantages of having co-workers who are also friends outside of work, there were a significant number that mentioned negatives, such as the work environment having cliques, not being able to leave work at work, and getting into situations where one is used or gossiped about, among other things. Quite a few readers just want to keep personal and work life separate. And, several expressed that it is harder to be friends with co-workers once you move up the company ladder. Because I am in a similar situation, Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “I don’t currently have coworkers who live close by because I work remotely. We are friends in the sense that we share aspects of our personal lives, but we don’t spend time together outside the office. In the past, when I worked in an office, I found it very beneficial to interact with coworkers as friends outside the office.” 

Thanks to all who participated in the survey!


I hear people at work talking about last night or planning what they are doing outside of work during the work day. I think less time could be spent on this.

It's always good to have friends!

I don't really socialize with co-workers outside of work. It is not unusual for this company to have employees who celebrate 40 years of service, and we're 2,500 strong. Since I only have 10 years of service and am a relative outsider (was not born and raised here), while I do have folks I can commiserate with, they are not my close friends.

I don't currently have coworkers who live close by because I work remotely. We are friends in the sense that we share aspects of our personal lives, but we don't spend time together outside the office. In the past, when I worked in an office, I found it very beneficial to interact with coworkers as friends outside the office. I had one job where I wasn't friends with coworkers, and I was decidedly less happy and productive in that job.

Co-worker friends are more understanding about the work atmosphere when you need to vent, however, it is important to leave work at work when socializing after 5:00.

I have been in both situations. Most of my good friends are former co-workers, many of whom are now retired. As an older member of the executive team, I am no longer in a position where it would be easy to have co-workers as close friends -- I do miss those days.

You can put up with a lot if you like the people you work with.

This causes cliques and the playing favorite game which makes some who are not in the group left out of things. Leave work at work.

When you are in management it is hard to have friends. I have some wonderful co-workers but I wouldn't call them friends. I am very friendly with several former co-workers because now we have no work ties.

If having co-workers as Facebook friends counts, then I do have co-workers who are friends outside of work.

At times, the downside with having a co-worker as a friend is that you lapse into talking about work on your off time. Working for an organization that is often in the local press and touches almost everyone who lives in the community, I'd prefer to leave work at work and not discuss it in my down time.

Verbatim (cont.)

If you don't like them in the office, why would you like them outside the office?

Out of an office of 80 I have 3 coworkers who are friends outside of work. The downside is they often complain about work outside of the office, which can affect my morale. The upside is that they are wonderful people and my life is richer for them.

When I was a peon, it was easier to make friends and get together outside work.

I had a job in the past where one of my co-workers was a good friend and I really enjoyed that job and liked going to work each day.

I intentionally keep a Chinese wall between my business and personal life. I've been in workplaces that personal friendships among co-workers lead to cliques, cronyism, gossip, reduced productivity and resentment. It's not that I don't like my co-workers, I do like them, but I prefer to keep relations arms-length.

It's harder to disconnect from work if you have work friends outside of work. Also, it's easier for people to be so close that they exclude others in the workplace. Clean break when you walk away from the office and get along with everyone at work.

You have to be careful though. I was and still am friends with someone who worked here a while but doesn’t any longer. I can’t talk about her to anyone here now. She didn’t leave on horrible terms, but they were not the best. So I have to be careful. You know.........associating with trouble makers and all that!

Having a good friend at work is often my saving grace! It also means I can spend less time complaining about work to my spouse, which I'm sure he is happy about.

Working in HR makes it hard to have co-workers that are friends outside of work.

When things are going well it is great, when things aren't, it gets awkward really fast....

As an HR professional, it's difficult to have friends outside of work.

Verbatim (cont.)

Having a deeper friendship and that level of trust that extends beyond work helps on many levels at work. Certainly better interconnectedness and morale, plus increased trust = increased speed. I think the bigger picture is that the employer might allow for building relationships at work and recognize that conversations not about work are critical for building strong relationships.

I prefer to keep my personal life separate from my professional life.

Not that I don't like my coworkers - but when you're the boss - social photos on Face Book aren't cool...

Unfortunately, they are co-workers but report to me, which sometimes can be difficult.

I like keeping my work life on the professional level and my personal life private.

I think it's fine - and healthy - to develop friendships from work relationships. Having people who are friends before they are co-workers is more of a mixed bag, in my experience. And of course, you completely skipped over the potential travails of having a "work spouse" - because sometimes friendships go "further"...

If you need something done, you know who you can count on to get it done. And they can count on ME to get something done for THEM, too!

I am there for all co-workers but feel even more dedication to my friends who are co-workers. I want them - all of us - to succeed, work smarter, play harder and be happy.

They are friends outside of work, but it is an occasional get together. It does help to have someone to vent to that you trust and they understand what you are talking about.

Having friends is always a good thing but as far as co-workers outside of work it can be a negative. The reason being you can't leave work at work and your friends sometimes will take advantage of your friendship inside the office.

It is great to have friends at work, however there are draw backs to it also. My friends had to understand that I was the one that would have to discipline them in the event of a problem. There also many times that I could not talk about happenings at work for so many reasons. It was a relationship that I often discussed with friends to be sure they understood that I had to do my job. They also had to do theirs.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.