Why You Need a Best Friend at Work

Let’s face it—work is stressful. Whether you love your job and are going all out to climb the corporate ladder, or you’re just trying to get by and make ends meet, work can be a lot. Almost half of us feel job stress for most of the work day, according to Statista, and stress comes in equal measure, whether you work remotely or on-site; employed or freelance

So what’s the best way to combat workplace stress? You might think the answer lies in taking breaks throughout the day or practicing yoga in your office. But it's actually much simpler: having a best friend at work.

Why a workplace ally is your secret weapon against stress

The people have spoken, and they want workplace friendships. According to a survey by BetterUp, 52% of people crave more connection at work. While you might think that workplace friendship is just about having someone to chat with during the daily grind, there’s a lot more to it.

You work harder, more creatively

It's easier to collaborate with someone you're friends with. Research shows that people who develop bonds with others in the workplace are more productive and creative because of this. They also become better at collaborating with others, even if they’re dealing with co-workers they aren’t as close to.

Having at least one person who knows how you think can help you feel seen, and that goes a long way toward empowerment. When you feel empowered, you are more likely to take risks, voice your opinions and think outside the box—things that can help advance your career.

If you often collaborate in your workplace, having a best friend also makes it easier for your team to delegate. Your friend will know your strengths and weaknesses and can effectively communicate them. This gives you space to tackle the tasks you are confident taking on, which, in turn, keeps everyone happy and the workflow smooth.

Friendships help you bust stress

It’s easy to say you don’t need a friend at work but, whenever things get stressful, having someone in your corner can prevent you from bottling up these emotions. They're not just your colleague, they're your friend. You trust them to have your best interests at heart and listen to your problems without judgment.

One habit of people who thrive under pressure is seeking support when needed. When you have a person you can go to at work, you’ll feel less isolated and less likely to feel hopeless about an outcome. BetterUp found 77% more stress in low-connected employees compared to people with stronger workplace bonds—and more burnout risk if you have low social connections at work. 

Friends elevate your work day and the team's morale

Friendships at work do more than just lighten your workload—they add a sprinkle of joy to every day. Imagine walking into the office and being greeted by the cheerful face of your best work buddy.  Suddenly, your day doesn't seem as daunting and you feel more motivated to tackle the tasks ahead.

Now imagine the ripple effect of that. When multiple positive relationships form in the workplace, the odds are higher that your team will have a high morale. This is especially important for remote teams, as they may not have the same opportunities for in-person socialization.

Workplace friendships are a win for employers, too. Great things happen in fun, friendship-oriented work environments. Employees are more likely to stay on in a job that makes them feel good—and less stressed—over the long term.

Having a BFF at work boosts your communication and conflict resolution

For workplace happiness, communication is key. How many times have you walked away from a meeting confused about what was expected of you? Or feeling like your coworkers are misinterpreting your emails or feedback? When you have a best friend at work, you can bounce ideas off each other and give honest feedback without fear.

And if conflict arises with someone else on the team, having a strong friendship can help resolve it faster. Just like friends outside of work, they're a sounding board to help you get another perspective, and they might give you the courage to speak up in a tricky situation. Plus, if the disagreement affects your best friend, you’re more likely to address rather than ignore the issue, since you want your friend to be happy too.

Finding your best friend at work

Some workplaces will be better set up for making friends than others. But even if yours is not, it’s still possible to find a work ally. Here are some tips:

  • Take the initiative: Don’t wait for your colleague to reach out first. Introduce yourself and strike up conversations.
  • Find common ground: Shared interests can be great conversation starters. Maybe you both love the same TV show or hobby? Ask them questions about it and share your own experiences.
  • Get involved in social events: If your workplace organizes social gatherings or team building activities, attend them! It’s a great way to connect with colleagues outside of the office environment and form new friendships.
  • Put yourself out there: Even if your work doesn't have many social events, try organizing your own. Suggest a lunch outing or after-work happy hour and invite some coworkers to join you.
  • Work together: Collaborating on a project is a great way to get to know someone better and build a friendship. Plus, it can lead to improved teamwork and productivity.
  • Be yourself: The best friendships are built on authenticity. Don’t try to be someone you’re not just to fit in. Focus on being genuine and let your personality shine. Your work BFF will appreciate you for who you are.
  • Be patient: Friendships take time to develop, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight. Both parties need to commit to spending time to get to know one another for a true bond to develop.

Keep in mind: it's not about the numbers

While having a workplace friend can help reduce stress, don't feel pressured to make friends with everyone at work or force a friendship for the sake of it. Instead, focus on building genuine connections with those you naturally click with and who support you both personally and professionally. Quality relationships are what matter, not quantity. One true workplace BFF is better than a hundred superficial acquaintances.

Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.