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Friendships on the Job May Need Boundaries

Why do we make friends on the job? Do the math. There are 168 hours in a week. Out of those 168 hours, we may spend 56 hours asleep. In many circumstances, over half of the remaining hours are spent traveling to and from work and in the workplace itself. With so much time spent in the workplace, is it any surprise that employees make friend on the job? While there are no laws against making friends on the job, however, keep in mind it is still a place of business. Friendships in the office should maintain boundaries.

Here are boundaries that you may want to consider:

1 – Keep talking to a minimum and the work to a maximum. It’s great to have someone in the office to chat with during slow periods. However, spending most of the work day socializing with your friend is definitely a “no-no.” Remember even though you’re buddies, you are in a work environment and you need to be productive.

2 – If it is Human Resources related, stay out of the mix. This is especially difficult if your friend is having work related problems requiring disciplinary measures. “Guilt by association” is an important term to remember. This is not to say you can’t help your friends out if they are in a jam. You may, however, not have all the facts. They also may be embarrassed and may not want you to become involved or even know about the situation. If it involves Human Resources, keep your nose out of the mix.

3 – What happens out of the office should stay out of the office. Bringing your personal life into the office is tricky enough when it involves just you. The temptation to talk about that “wild night of partying” may be tempting, but it definitely has no place in the office. Remember that bragging about late night drinking binges in front of your supervisor, may severely hamper your chances for a promotion.

4 – Have a friend, but be friendly to everyone. What is one of the most important causes of low morale in the office? If you guessed “cliques” you’re correct. Don’t be friends to the extent you exclude others in the office. Sitting around whispering, noticeably halting a conversation when others come around or just being mean to anyone other then your friend is a definite morale buster. If you can’t help yourself and just can’t stand to talk to anyone but your friend, you better hope you don’t need teammates in the near future.

5 – The end of a friendship is not the end of a co-worker relationship. Unfortunately there comes a time when the friendship may come to an end for one reason or another. One of the hardest things to do is to work with someone that you have a problem with. The problem is compounded when that person used to be your friend. Remember that you’re still in a professional environment and changing jobs just because you changed friends is not an option. If there were ever a reason for not having friends in the workplace, this is it. If you don’t think you can maintain solid co-worker relationships, weigh the options of starting a friendship against keeping your job.

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