“Watercooler” Moments Are Actually Good for Business

You work. You play. You live in two separate worlds that seldom collide.

This was the way it was for previous generations. Today’s workforce, however, is introducing a new dynamic; the lines between work and home are blurring.

At the heart of this change

Is the development of close work friendships. Socializing with coworkers is now more than polite conversations during meetings. Millennials, in particular, are sharing their lives with fellow employees, discussing home as well as work with coworkers as they bike together on weekends.

Why should we care?

A recent study, conducted by the O.C. Tanner consulting firm, revealed work friendships can actually be good for business. More than 70 percent of those who reported having best friends at work are happy with their jobs, and three-quarters of those with work besties said they feel confident tackling work challenges. Employees without close friends at work said they are far less likely to feel this way.

To take advantage of the blurring line between work and home lives

Businesses may want to create more opportunities for employees to develop at-work relationships. This will look different for each company, but fostering an environment of socialization is the goal. Make meetings shorter and break times longer. Invest in team-building exercises. Create fun spaces in the office where employees are encouraged to gather and bounce ideas off one another.

By creating an environment that naturally cultivates more “watercooler” moments, organizations encourage employees to forge inside/outside relationships. And according to the Tanner study, these friendships will pay off in spades.

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