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A new study in the UK looking into the happiness of people at work has found 52 percent of Britons think their co-workers are their closest friends. It was also found their friendship is because they spend the most amount of time with them. Britons also think it takes a year to establish a friendship with a colleague, as reported on HR News.

So what does that mean for our happiness with our jobs, while most of us are working at home during the pandemic?

Weighing in from America, Shasta Nelson, author of the new #1 Best Selling book, The Business of Friendship: Making the Most of the Relationships Where We Spend Most of Our Time [HarperCollins Leadership, August 18, 2020], has provided the following insight on the results of this study (in which she was not affiliated):

Shasta Nelson talking about achieving work-life balance
Shasta Nelson
  • The data continues to show that those who have a best friend at work make the best employees— fewer sick days, less turn-over, better customer service, and more contribution to the team. So seeing that 52% of UK-based adults viewers one of their co-workers to be their closest friend is really encouraging! (Compare that to Nelson’s  research for her book The Business of Friendship showing only 40% of Americans have a best friend at work.)
  • The top 5 reasons explaining why they felt closest to their work friends all are examples of what Shasta teaches are the 3 Relationship Requirements present in every healthy relationship: Consistency (shared time and regular interactions), Positivity (feeling good about those interactions), and Vulnerability (feeling like they know more about each other). Reasons 1, 3, 4 are examples of Consistency, #2 is an example of Vulnerability, and #5 is the Positivity we look for in every healthy relationship.
  • However with only 23% of respondents feeling like their friends “truly care” about them, we could ascertain that the area that is the lowest is our positivity, which matches Nelson’s studies that continue to show that of the 3 Requirements: Positivity continues to be the one that has the most room for improvement. An abundance of positive emotions are critical to our bond because they inform how much we want to do the other two things: spend time together (Consistency) and share who we are (Vulnerability).
  • The data point of it taking 6 more months to feel close to a co-worker if they aren’t working closely together (8 months compared to 14) gives us a good glimpse into our future work relationships as more of us work remotely and may not be interacting with our co-workers as frequently. It’s important that we re-set the expectations that bonding is likely going to take longer.
  • The reason 65% of us admit that we share more with our work friends than our non-work friends due to “seeing them 5 days a week” reinforces just how important our Consistency is correlated with our Vulnerability— we aren’t choosing to share more with our work friends because we like them better than our non-work friends per say, but we’re sharing more simply because we interact more frequently. As our Consistency increases, so too does what we feel like we know about each other.
  • In Nelson’s on research, she found that 60% of us don’t believe our organizations are doing enough to foster friendships at work for us. Not only do we want them doing more, but we hold them somewhat responsible for whether we have those friendships or not: 56% of us believe that whether we have a best friend at work is almost entirely dependent upon our employers and the culture they establish, with only 10% of respondents saying they weren’t responsible at all.