Work Friendships Are Not Necessarily Real Friendships

Work friendships are good to have, but they are different from and do not take the place of real friendships. Recognize the difference between the two and enjoy the benefits of each, but avoid making the mistake of relying on work friends for real, personal companionship and confidence.

(Photo Credit: djonesphoto/Flickr)

Human beings are social creatures, and at some point, we even need friends to survive. Science indicates that community, social supports, and friendships are necessary for a long and enjoyable life. It’s part of being human.

Crafting positive relationships with co-workers makes the work environment pleasant and contributes to productivity in more than one way.

  • In a pleasant environment, people are less distracted by problems.
  • Co-workers are more likely to help each other out when they get along.
  • And, let’s face it, it’s nicer to go to work when you enjoy spending time with the people at the office.


Loneliness may be a big problem today for single adults. In addition to the need many have to work full-time, technology has advanced to the point that we interact without being in the same room, making any physical contact, or even hearing another person’s voice. While technology has given us the ability to get in touch quickly with friends and family members far away, it has also removed proximity.

Work Friendships

The point is that people who spend most of their time at work may see their work friendships as their real friendships, and this is a mistake. Consider these things when determining if your work friends are your real friends:

  • Do you hang out together outside of work hours? 
  • When you see them outside of work, do you talk about work, or something else? Real friends have something in common besides work. 
  • Have you been to each other’s homes, or met each other’s significant others? 
  • Would you call them for help during a personal emergency?
  •  If you left your job tomorrow, would you still be in touch with this person in a year’s time?

If you do enjoy a real friendship with a co-worker, that’s wonderful, but remember to keep the work environment professional. Other co-workers may become resentful if it looks like you are giving or receiving preferential treatment due to a personal friendship.

Nurture work friendships for what they are: opportunities to work with and learn from other people in your field. Work relationships are opportunities to network, and to develop a creative and productive work environment that you all look forward to.

If a real friendship develops, enjoy it, but keep it professional at work and personal outside of work.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have real friends that you also work with? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.