There is no doubt that having awesome coworkers makes for a great job. But when does the line between co-workers and friends disappear? And the better question is, Should it?

Bringing your besty into the workplace or assimilating a co-worker into your squad sounds great, but it can be tricky business. There are decisions to be made, boundaries to set up and mutually assured professionalism needed to make things work.

Let’s breakdown the do’s and don’ts of working with your friends.


Choosing Your Work Friends Wisely

In a perfect world, people get along easily and work together in harmony. While this is the goal of any corporation, the reality can be anything but. Things can get testy between people at work even though their only interactions are at the office.

The work environment is centered around professionalism. This system operates on a completely different rule book. Blurring the line between these boundaries can create problems if not respected.

Having a Friday night social partner to let loose is a great thing. The conversations are good and the jokes are better. While they may hold the record for the longest mechanical bull ride in the county, they might be a terrible person to work with. Take time to learn this about your friends before working with them.

The same is true for bringing a co-worker into your social circle. The professional environment tends to allow people to leave some things at the door. You might invite a friend out to drinks with your other friends only to find out they have a habit of yelling profanity at the game and singlehandedly offending the whole establishment.

It can be a roll of the dice. Taking some time to get to know the other sides of people can go a long way in keeping awkward or ugly situations out of the office.


Communicating boundaries

If you feel that your research is sound and you have a good friend you can work with, establish some simple boundaries. It can be a simple as a willingness to keep work and life separate. Alternatively, you could decide not to let business get in the middle of your friendship. It just has to be communicated.

Friends are oftentimes given more leeway in terms of boundaries. If Todd from accounting was stealing your Snak Pak from the office fridge, it would be handled in a professional way. Todd was breaking work etiquette and has no right to take anything from you, even if it was harmless.

Enter your friend who is comfortable raiding your fridge for leftovers. The mystery of the missing Snack Pak can get pretty heated in an office place. Since the line of friendship and professionalism has been blurred, it may be confusing on how best to handle the hypothetical situation.

A good solid friendship should be able to survive the parrels of a kidnapped Snak Pak. Just keep the lines of communication open.


Embodying Professionalism

It’s okay to have fun with friends on the job. It’s okay to socialize with your co-workers outside of work. But being professional on the job is the constant. This must be maintained in the interest of everyone involved. It’s all up to how you choose to balance it.

Paying extra attention to your interactions with work friends is always a good idea. The work-friend / social-friend dynamic needs to be monitored and respected. Choosing your dual purpose friends wisely is half the battle, and giving the relationship the proper attention and boundaries will see many happy years of working together.



Article updated from original Febuary 20th, 2019