We’ve all been there – after a long day at the office, you come home and want to decompress about everything that happened, but your significant other just doesn’t want to hear it. Enter the work spouse. Aside from having someone to turn to for lunch and a side of office gossip, having a close friend at work (aka “work wife” or “work husband”) can not only help get you through the day, but can actually boost your productivity and overall work-life wellness. Recent research even identified that employees with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs further cementing the importance of the work spouse relationship. By encouraging employees to “partner up“ with someone that they can rely on, companies are doing themselves a favor in the end.
Some people might think that close friendships at work are a distraction or lead to favoritism, and might feel discouraged from striking a friendship with someone a few cubicles down. But in actuality, people are inherently social creatures and we end up losing focus when we’re feeling isolated or alone. Extended time alone can even lead to memory and learning deficits, according to psychologist and author Ron Friedman. Additionally, a recent study by Globoforce found that office friendships actually strengthen employees‘ connection with their company as a whole. As it turns out, a work wife (or husband) could lead to much strong employee loyalty in the long-run, ensuring that they stay at their workplace for an longer period than they may have without their work spouse.
As the lines between work life and home life continue to blur, the presence of work spouses have become increasingly important. Is this a good thing? According to Friedman, having friends at work helps us pay less attention to whether or not we’re fitting in, and bring more attention to the work being done. He goes on to say that “many scientists now believe it’s impossible to perform at our best unless we feel connected to others.“ Creating a space where employees can depend on one another takes out a lot of the guesswork of the day to day struggles of office politics. Friedman also pointed out that the gender of your “work spouse“ does not matter in this situation.
When it comes to keeping your work spouse on the straight and narrow, he says that “we’re also more comfortable pointing out when a colleague is going down the wrong path.” Additionally he stated that “having work friends encourages us to ask for help when we need it.” Because many employees face a certain level of intimidation when it comes to asking questions in the workplace, having someone to lean on helps take the guesswork out of the day-to-day.
An added benefit to these meaningful connections in the office? More work friends results in more resources for executing our work, “which allows us achieve at a higher level,” Friedman concludes.
So, moral of the story? There’s always a good reason to go for a long lunch with your work-spouse, your boss may even thank you in the end!