The Fine Line Between Work Friends

The Fine Line Between Work Friends


It would be extremely difficult to get through a workday if you were behind your computer for 8 hours a day (in some cases more) with no one you felt like you could turn to and have a conversation with. The lack of human connection and communication would start to take a toll and essentially make someone feel lonely and disconnected.

Having a “best friend” at work is said to really improve the overall happiness of an employee. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that a majority of our time is spent around our coworkers. When you have a work best friend you have someone that you can talk to, bounce ideas off of, and simply one’s company. Having someone you consider a friend at work dramatically impacts your day to day life and how you feel about the environment that you are in. But just because it’s good to have work friends, it doesn’t mean that all friendships between coworkers are appropriate.

So, who is it and is it not appropriate to be friends with?

From various roles, positions, and seniority levels businesses are made up of all kinds of employees. And because there are so many different types of employees within a single organization the thought of who should and shouldn’t be friends with come down to what one defines as being a “friend”.

I know what you might be thinking… I am not referring to friendships between men and women but rather executives, managers, leaders and their subordinates.

It isn’t uncommon to have friendships with individuals who aren’t in the same department, position, or role. In fact, having relationships with people in the office who are in similar or opposite roles is something that is encouraged to keep employee engagement alive around the office.  

But what about when it comes to your boss? Where should the line be drawn?

As a whole, being in a management/ leadership position is challenging. This isn’t to say that friendships between higher level employees and their subordinates cannot coexist but more so to note that these relationships don’t typically work out.

Most say to be a leader, not a buddy.

Being liked and respected is something we all want. Managers want to stand with their employees but also have them know where they stand. As a boss, it is great to be friendly towards your employees but consider these few things before you become besties:

  1. Are you both mature enough?
  2. Can you be completely transparent and honest with each other?
  3. Are you both able to separate your feelings about each other?
  4. Will you separate personal conversations from work?
  5. Can all parties be accepting of the power dynamics?
  6. Most importantly can you set boundaries?

Building great relationships at work can do wonders for your professional experience and success, but it can also crush it. One must manage any working relationship with maturity, well-defined boundaries, composure, and self-awareness.