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Relationships at work – Making connections

By Paperstone on July 5, 2024 in Uncategorized

We spend more time at work than we do in our own homes with family and loved ones. It’s only natural that relationships will develop with colleagues which might progress to deeper friendships, or even romantic relationships.

Understanding and managing different workplace relationships, especially when they’ve crossed over to outside the workplace is crucial for team success.

Relationships with colleagues

In a recent survey by HubSpot, over 50% of UK workers said they would rather have great relationships at work than a 10% pay increase. That’s how much people value relationships at work!

Team talking at work

Relationships with colleagues are the most common. Whether it’s someone who works at the same level as you, a manager-employee relationship, or a cross-department relationship.

Open communication, respect for boundaries and creating a feeling of collaboration are key to keeping these relationships healthy.

Resolving conflict quickly, in an understanding environment, is really important. People need to feel heard, without fearing judgement. This dynamic helps keep each individual happy, as well as contributing to the work environment and achieving company goals.

Why not do a bit of cross-departmental training? Or, plan some side-by-sides for a morning so everyone gets a better understanding of other roles and what’s involved? This can help people understand stressors within other teams, and how they can help to alleviate some of these.

Team building and fun activities are also a good way of strengthening bonds between employees. At Paperstone, we hold a monthly all-company Town Hall meeting, which is followed by team lunch. This gives us all a good opportunity to catch up about work and our personal lives; and generally brings everyone together.

Friendships in the workplace

A report published by Relate in 2014, stated, the amount of time spent with colleagues far exceeded the time spent with their family or friends in the UK. It also showed that over half (58%) of people at work had at least one close friend at work with over a fifth (22%) having three or more close friends. However, just over two-fifths (42%) of people in work did not count any colleagues as close friends.

Friendships that have formed often lead to socialising outside the workplace, providing emotional support, and sharing of personal interests and hobbies. Having friends at work helps to make the workplace more enjoyable and can reduce stress.

Being friends with your colleagues can lead to better teamwork and productivity, as you enjoy working together. During challenging times, it’s great having a friend at work who you can confide in.

Unfortunately, close friendships can also lead to a divisive atmosphere, especially when cliques form. It can also sometimes be tricky to make sure that friendships don’t interfere with work responsibilities. Try not to form groups that exclude others or alienate other colleagues. Most importantly, don’t let your personal issues spill over into the workplace – this can be toxic for everyone.

Romantic relationships in the workplace

These relationships can range from casual dating, to longer-term serious commitments.

According to research by YouGov, the number one answer to how people in the UK have met their partner, is through work. It’s more common than meeting people through friends, or through online dating/dating apps.

As with friendships, a romantic partner can provide support during challenging times and help reduce stress and improve emotional well-being. Some studies have suggested that having a partner at work can increase engagement and job satisfaction, as long as the relationship remains healthy and professional.

Unfortunately, romantic relationships can sometimes be tricky to navigate, not just for the people involved, but for colleagues around you who might not be tolerant to it. If the people involved are at different levels in the company hierarchy, it can lead to perceptions of favouritism or bias. Of course, the biggest hurdle to navigate is if the relationship ends, or if one person is not interested while the other one is.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with your company’s HR policy about entering a romantic relationship in the workplace. Some companies forbid these types of relationships, while others require disclosure to HR. Keep your relationship professional during working hours – no PDAs (public displays of affection), and no arguments. Sit down with your partner and discuss how you’ll handle potential issues, such as a breakup, and how you’ll continue to work together professionally in this type of situation.

Relationships should be a fun part of work – it’s not all serious!

Plus, it’s good for your mental health.

Talking is key

Whether you work in the office on a daily basis, work from home, or have a hybrid working arrangement, always make sure you make time to check in with your colleagues to see how they’re doing. You never know when someone might need to talk, whether it be about work or something troubling them in their personal life. NESCAFÉ have some great tips for how to “Make Chat Work

Final thoughts

Effective communication is key to managing any type of relationship in the workplace. Always prioritise professionalism, as your main focus should be fulfilling your work responsibilities and contributing positively to the team. Respect each other’s space and feelings, and try to create an inclusive work atmosphere. This should help to create a fun, enjoyable work environment; one you’ll be happy spending the majority of your time at. And remember, if you have gained friends or found your life partner at work, be grateful, as not everyone is fortunate enough to form these bonds 😊


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