The Importance of Work Friends: How to Establish Friendships with Colleagues, Even if You’re Remote

Humans are social creatures by nature. Developing strong relationships in both personal and professional circles offers a feeling of connection that may help people cope with stress and adversity.

Although recent trends in remote and hybrid work environments have, in some cases, led to fewer opportunities to connect with colleagues in person, taking steps to develop and maintain friendships with colleagues is of paramount importance. Below are just a few of the reasons to consider strengthening your work friendships.

Benefits of establishing friendships at work

A smiling person talks with work colleagues via video conference.Various personal and professional benefits are associated with establishing friendships in the workplace. Having work friendships can not only create a more enjoyable work environment, but also help you expand your professional network and lead to career advancement opportunities.

Other benefits of establishing and strengthening office and remote work friendships include the following:

  • Work friendships boost job satisfaction. Professionals with friends at work report having a greater sense of job satisfaction. Approximately 57% of respondents said having close friends at work made their job more enjoyable, according to a 2021 Wildgoose survey.
  • Professionals with friends in the workplace are less likely to experience burnout. People with office friendships can turn to colleagues when they’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Socializing with co-workers, even briefly, can not only help reduce stress but also offer opportunities to take mental health breaks from work-related pressures.
  • Work friendships can improve productivity and engagement. Professionals with friends in the workplace may be more likely to share ideas, communicate openly, and work better with their colleagues. All these things help boost productivity.
  • Having friends at work can make the workday more fun. Having friends in the workplace creates opportunities for workers to engage in lighthearted conversations. These shared experiences help make the workday feel less monotonous and the workplace feel more enjoyable.
  • Work friendships help create a more inclusive environment. Office friendships help promote trust, collaboration, and inclusivity, according to a 2023 Business News Daily report. Having co-workers who take a genuine interest in each other’s lives helps create a positive company culture.
  • Work friendships can create additional benefits for remote workers. In addition to the above benefits, developing work friendships can help reduce feelings of isolation among remote workers. Although working from home provides opportunities to save on transportation costs and commute time and may help improve work-life balance, losing in-person contact with team members can lead some workers to feel lonely. Remote workers who maintain friendships with team members are less likely to feel isolated during the workday. Establishing work friendships can also help remote workers feel more informed and connected to their teams.

How to make work friends in the office and at home

Professionals interested in building or strengthening friendships with co-workers, both in person and remotely, have various options.

  • Schedule a joint work session. Working from home doesn’t mean you need to work alone. Do you have colleagues who live nearby? Consider scheduling weekly joint work sessions at your home, their home, or a local coffee shop. If distance is prohibitive, you can opt to schedule virtual working sessions using Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, or another video calling application.
  • Plan an in-person or a remote activity. Scheduling an off-hour activity, such as meeting for lunch, planning a hike, or volunteering at a local nonprofit, can be a great way to strengthen friendships with co-workers. Workers who live far away from one another can opt to schedule remote hangouts, such as virtual game sessions or book club meetings.
  • Stay connected via messaging portals. Messaging platforms, such as Slack and WhatsApp Web, are great tools to help you stay connected with team members. These platforms can also help remote workers maintain daily interactions with friends from work.
  • Be proactive in reaching out to the people you work with. Friendships take work. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for feedback or advice. Remember that not all workplace interactions need to be about work. Take steps to learn more about the people you work with.
  • Join workplace committees or employee resource groups. Joining groups and committees can be a great way to get to know your co-workers and meet colleagues who you don’t normally work with.

Advance your education and gain opportunities to expand your friendships at work

An online bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree or certificate from Maryville University can help professionals interested in starting or finishing their college degrees to advance in their current careers or switch to new ones. Making a bold career move can provide opportunities to grow your professional network — and can also lead to new work friendships.

Are you ready to take the next brave step toward starting or completing your college degree? Discover how Maryville’s online degree programs can help prepare you for the next chapter in your professional journey.

Recommended Readings

The Unexpected Perks of Online Learning: Best Friends Born from Social Work Studies

How to Communicate Effectively in the Hybrid Workplace

How to Find Legit Work-from-Home Jobs



Business News Daily, “Why It’s Good to Have a BFF at Work”

Forbes, “Five Tips to Avoid Feeling Lonely When Working Remotely”

Gallup, “The Increasing Importance of a Best Friend at Work”

The New York Times, “Do We Know How Many People Are Working from Home?”,  “Building Friendships With Coworkers While Working Remotely”, “How to Make Friends at Work Even if You’re Remote

Time, “Why Work Friends Are Crucial for Your Health”

Wildgoose, “The 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey”

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