Making friends at work

Professor Lynda Gratton on the value of workplace friendships

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‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ or so the old adage goes. But what if that friend is a colleague and the lines are blurred as to what constitutes genuine friendship and what constitutes friendly relations with a colleague? What if that friend then becomes your boss? And what if that friendship has been diluted by time apart due to hybrid working?

LBS’ Professor of Management Practice Lynda Gratton has studied people and dynamics in the workforce for decades. In her view, friendships at work are complex, with some people wary of laying themselves open to a colleague. Over time, however, colleagues can move from being somebody you say a friendly ‘hi’ to by way of greeting to someone you have lunch with, go for drinks after work with and eventually share your innermost thoughts with.

In Professor Gratton’s view, if you have a really good friend at work, someone who you can genuinely confide in, that helps to improve your overall work experience. Being insulated from the loneliness that has plagued many since the pandemic hit, helps to make people feel more connected to their workplace and engage better with their work.

Much has been made of being able to bring your real self to work in recent years. Part of this for most people is being open to and establishing friendships, the value of which Professor Gratton has explored in recent articles for MIT Sloan Management Review and the Financial Times. She has also recorded a podcast for the Financial Times if you’d like to learn more about why friendships at work are important.