Did you know that if you have a “best” friend at work, you are seven times more engaged than an average employee?!
If we do a simple math exercise – out of 24 hrs: 8 hrs average workday, 8 hrs average sleep (yeah, right?!) and 8 hrs for commuting, grocery shopping, running errands etc., we’ll discover that generally, a person spends more time with their co-worker than with friends and family. Then it is safe to say that the connections we form at work are of upmost value for our engagement, motivation, resilience and even work life balance.
The Social chemistry and neuro plasticity studies have shown that being social is not only good for our emotions, it is good for our bodies too. People that form strong social connections are healthier due to hormones released from their brains into their organisms such as oxytocin, for example. This is how new moms connect to their newborns, oxytocin is released when couples kiss, when friends laugh, when people hug. All positive emotions, right?! But our bodies are so much more than that, we have a built in mechanism to detect when someone is in distress, getting the urge to help them. Moreover, the more we help, the more we reach out for another social connection, the more resilience we build for ourselves emotionally and physically, making us more prepared to face the challenges of the ever-changing environment around us.
And keeping in mind the simple math we did a minute ago, whom have you reached out to or helped today?! It is not easy, of course, as everyone is competing for the average person’s attention but making happiness a priority, means you will make time for it. And it will be worth your while, you just need to give it time!
As sociologist L. Denworth points out, people generally need 80 to 100 hours together before they can call one another a friend and more than 200 hours before they would deem themselves “best” friends.
“It’s in our relationships that we find the emotional sustenance and power we need to thrive.”, adds former U.S. surgeon general Vivek Murthy, calling friendship fundamental to successful professional relationships.
The “new normal” as we keep calling it, makes establishing relationships and trust an utmost priority for employers too whilst the pandemic forced even further together, if not completely wiped away the boundaries between workplace and personal lives. Everyone’s homes have been invaded by their work and simultaneously everyone has brought their personal (people) matter to work. That unprecedented merge, of course, brought a lot of challenges but as one of the World Economic Forum’s latest articles says, it also presents ”an important gain – a growing global awareness of the value of trust.” So if you are a Manager, we invite you to think how would you use the opportunity this enlightenment presents?
But above all, we encourage you to go on and make friends, it will make you feel good and you being happy alone will improve your productivity and effectiveness at the company and it will boost your career too.
Do you need tips and tricks to speed up the process - here are four simple ideas you could try:
- Proximity – desks positioning or spending time together virtually (why not, even outside of work).
- Getting to know one another – ask a personal question or two, schedule one on ones. Different icebreakers games - ask HR, they’ll be happy to give you outstanding ideas.
- Finding a common interest – book clubs, wine tasting, sports, hobbies.
- Group experience - togetherness/team building activity, weekend getaway, attraction visits. Ask HR for inspiration.
The growing existance of our beings in the virtual space doesn't mean that we'll stop being humans and we'll stop longing connection or cherish true friendships.
Go on, brave out and strike a conversation with your new best friend! You'll tell us all about it later :)