The benefits of office besties

70% of employees miss office-based conversationsSomething for the weekend: As International Friendship Day arrives (30 July) there’ll be many a home worker fondly remembering all the good times they had with their office bestie before the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic ripped them apart and consigned them to a solitary life of working from home.

No one can argue that working from home has not brought its benefits, such as that extra half hour in bed previously spent crammed on an overcrowded commuter train, often next to someone who had clearly consumed a raw garlic bulb for breakfast. However, one office perk home working cannot replace is that in person interaction with our workplace chums that no zoom call can ever match.

In homage to this special relationship, business support platform Rovva recently surveyed 1,000 UK working adults on their workplace friendships, revealing just how important office besties are to our wellbeing and to employee engagement.

While a clear majority of employees rate office pals as important, the research revealed that women are more likely to believe that workplace friendships are a priority (69%) than men (64%). In addition women are also more likely to stay in touch with work friends from previous jobs, on average for six and a half years. However, men do not lag far behind on the bestie loyalty stakes, with the length of their work friendships averaging five and a half years.

Nor do these friendships end at the office door, with three-quarters  reporting they hang out with their work friends after work, with men (73%) socialising slightly less than women (77%).

The research also unveiled differences between sectors, with the IT and telecoms industry employees revealing themselves as the chummiest of workforces, as 72% were most likely to say their work friends were important to their workplace happiness. At the other end of the scale, travel and transport employees were the least likely to rate office pals as important to keeping them cheerful (53%).

Office besties do not have to be confined to the same rank, the survey found, with those working in sales, media and marketing the most likely to make friends with their manager (70%). They clearly haven’t heard the saying: “Don’t think of me as your boss: Think of me as a friend who can sack you.” Meanwhile, managers were most likely to report friendships with their staff in IT and telecoms (69%).

However, while younger workers are the most likely to socialise with their work friends on weekends (33%) and weeknights (34%), and twice as likely to socialise on weeknights than over 55s, this older cohort were more likely to have longer lasting friendships from the workplace, with friendships lasting eight years.

Jon Abrahams, managing director of digital business, Rovva, said: “We know that friendships really enhance the workplace for many people. Work lunches, activity days out and even just a quick chat in the office kitchen can really boost our moods during the work day. We’re not surprised to see that people have found it more difficult to make friendships in the workplace during the pandemic. After seeing the results of our research, we hope that more people can find the time to get to know their colleagues better, creating long lasting friendships.”

Here at Employee Benefits we know the importance of office friendships on wellbeing. Having spent a latte time together, we are all now best teas for life and are looking forward a waffle lot to when we can all be back in the office celebrating the next International Friendship Day.