You work with these people eight hours a day, five days a week. But do you reach past your office doors or cubicle boundaries to see your co-workers at 5 o’clock happy hour or a weekend baseball game? Would you go so far as to call your fellow employees friends?
There are ups and downs to forming work friendships that carry past the office parking lot. Nine entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) chime in, sharing their takes on whether calling your cube neighbor your BFF is a good or bad thing:
1. Collaboration and job satisfaction
Team members should definitely hang out outside of work. It makes working together more enjoyable and helps co-workers stay motivated during crunch time. These types of relationships fuel open communication, a good work ethic, flexibility and a better understanding of each person’s roles and expectations. If you hire the right professionals, workplace drama will be minimal.
—Stephen Ufford, Trulioo
2. Potential disaster
Employee friendships can be awesome, but if the relationship heads south, you will immediately feel a negative impact in terms of teamwork and productivity in the company. This is especially true if they are working in the same department or area.
—Jon Cline, Rokit SEO
3. Blurred lines
Overall I think it’s a good thing, but there is the potential to have so much personal rapport that you begin to put relationships ahead of the business, or you mistake true friendship for friendship that’s convenient because they happen to be working together. In both of these scenarios, feelings can get hurt and bitterness may ensue.
—Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
4. Better team dynamics
—Ashley Mady, Brandberry
5. A team environment
Whether you have a customary Friday afternoon beer with your co-workers, take the whole team to a baseball game a few times a season or sweat together in corporate challenge events, the result is the same: Colleagues who are in each other’s lives work harder. You’re no longer a collection of individuals who gather in an office but a true community pulling for group success.
—Grant Gordon, Solomon Consulting Group
6. Happiness from having friends at work
I generally love it when employees hang out outside of work. One of the indicators that lead to employee happiness is having a best friend at work, which is much more likely to happen if your employees spend time together outside of the office. Having a tight-knit group of employees is crucial when it comes to overall company culture as well as talent retention.
—Arian Radmand, CoachUp
7. Free-flowing communication and ideas
Employees who hang together outside of work will become closer and more comfortable with each other. Communication, brainstorming and creative thinking will be more free-flowing and natural. They will also be comfortable enough to call each other out on a bad idea or nonperformance, which leads to greater accountability.
—Phil Dumontet, DASHED
8. A culture of connectivity
Culture isn’t only built within the four walls of your business. Having employees that enjoy spending time together can help make work that much more enjoyable and lead to their hearts being more into the day-to-day work they are doing for the company.
—Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group
9. Increased employee retention
It’s inevitable that when people spend a lot of time together, some will form really strong relationships. While there are some potential risks—like personal drama invading the workspace—in general, relationship-building within the office should be encouraged, as it increases employee retention, creates a strong culture and just makes work more fun for the whole team.
—David Spinks, CMX Media
This article was published in November 2014 and has been updated. Photo by @duangbj/Twenty20