It is a fact that employees spend a major part of their waking hours with their colleagues and co-workers, so it is but natural for them to build strong friendships with some of their co-workers.

As an employee you form close bonds at the workplace because you share common values with your co-workers, have a strong sense of affinity, similar experiences and even share the same work goals and aspirations. Always remember that you are an employee first and then a friend.

Some companies frown at the thought of deep friendships among co-workers.

Your tendency to focus more on your friends at work could cost you a promotion and the management might think you come to work to socialise rather than really do your job.

The company will not take you seriously especially if you let your friendships get in the way of executing your responsibilities, for instance your colleague makes a serious mistake and you fail to report it because of your friendship.

So it is necessary to know where to draw the line between friendship and a professional relationship.

As Janie Fritz, Associate Professor of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Duquesne University, says, “Work is work, we’re hired to do a job and as long as that takes priority, friendships can emerge naturally, be very constructive and quite enjoyable.”

Your friendships at work are scrutinised by the management, so it is better to be selective about the friends you make here.

Your boss might not like you spending time on non-work related activities with such persons or if one of your pals has productivity issues, then your own output may be under the scanner.

Besides forming close friends at the workplace puts you at risk of being taken advantage of by them. They may ask you to fill in for them, help with tasks, do some part of their work or make reports.

And it is difficult to refuse because they are friends.

Trust is important all the more in workplace friendships because you tend to share both professional and personal secrets with such friends and unless they are worthy of the trust, there is the risk that they may divulge these secrets and this can at times hurt your career. So you must know where to draw the line when it comes to divulging secrets or spreading gossip and rumours, it may get you and your friends into trouble.

In these days of Twitter and Facebook, use your discretion in deciding which colleagues will be on your friends list.

And modify your privacy settings so that your bosses and colleagues do not get to know too much of your personal life or post details about you which can get you in to trouble.

Office friendships also influence professional equations especially if you or one of your friends gets promoted.

This change in the status quo can cause friction in workplace relations and can affect performance reviews and other aspects of teamwork.

If you have been promoted and let your friend get away with less or shoddy work, others could accuse you of favouritism. Similarly, if your friend has been made the team head and you are close to him, co-workers will tend to think you are playing up to the boss.

Another risk in such friendships is if your friends fall out with you, there is the risk that they may turn vindictive and reveal the secrets you shared or could start bad-mouthing you to the boss.

Another issue is if your friends are in trouble and could lose their jobs, they expect you to stand up for them even if they have done wrong, this can create a moral dilemma for you and even put your own job at risk.

The best thing is to maintain the right distance in such relationships, this means consciously spending less time talking on personal matters and sharing more work-related issues.

This ensures less alienation in the relationship and few chances of trouble at work.

The best way is to maintain the proper space in workplace friendships.

You and your friend/s should learn to keep personal and professional lives separate to form a long-lasting relationship.

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