Making friends at workplace: Is it possible?

SINGAPORE: There is a different notion when it comes to friendships at work. Some are comfortable with it, while some are hesitant.

One Singaporean Redditor shared, “I feel that people at my workplace only know me for my alias and job title.” He continued asking, “Do you think its possible to forge genuine friendships at work?”

Redditor One_Cup2807 shared, “I have no friends but work friends, because of my personality.”

Another user agreed, sharing, “Same here. I think its not too bad la cos like sometimes if you know them too well, you can’t be professional also. And tbh, I also dont know how long I will stay in this company. Dont want to feel sad later if I resign. Easiest way to prevent getting hurt is keeping a distance, my coping mechanism, that’s why I have no friends.”

Some shared it’s ‘possible but rare’: “Possible but rare. Why? Because you already see them for 8 to 12 hours a day (if you OT) for 5 days a week. Most people would want to spend more time with their loved ones and families in their free time instead of spending even more time with colleagues. Even if you are on good terms like friends with your colleagues.”

While some are keen on keeping boundaries: “No, and by choice. Take it from me, make sure that anything you say can and will be used against you in any form. If you MUST gossip, do it verbally. Be very careful with text messages as they can serve as evidence against you…Your colleagues are not your friends.”

Another user jokingly added, “Dangerous territory” while user Bitinggames agreed, saying, “Important to draw lines at work.”

The importance of friendship at work

Research supports the importance of friendships at work. According to My Careers Future, “a 2021 survey found that 57% of employees felt that having a best friend made their work more enjoyable, while 22% agreed that work friends made them more productive. Conversely, those with no friends or who have fewer than five friends often felt lonelier and more disengaged.”

It was also explained by Professor Teresa Amabile, a professor from Harvard Business School, that ‘one of the things that contribute to positive inner work life is a sense of camaraderie with teammates and close co-workers’, she said: “People are more creative and productive when they experience more positive inner work life, including more positive emotions, stronger motivation toward the work itself and more positive perceptions of the organization.”

Although Singaporeans’ opinions on workplace friendships may differ, with some valuing friendly connections and others preferring a more professional boundary, there are ways to foster better friendships at work.

Building Friendships at Work

  1. Find common ground: Start conversations around hobbies, passions, or life perspectives you relate to.
  2. Try small talk: Not everyone is comfortable sharing their lives, but try taking a moment to check in with your colleagues before work starts. Small gestures can make a big difference.
  3. Celebrate together: Celebrating can sometimes be difficult, as Redditor thethinkingbrain said: “if your job involves making a living and there’s promotions on the line.’ However, to form a strong bond, it’s nice to acknowledge your colleagues’ success.
  4. Plan something fun: Something fun doesn’t mean something grand. It can be as simple as sharing a meal at lunchtime or going to the gym together.

Although not everyone prefers having friends at work, ShuaigeTiger said: “Of course it’s possible. Met some of my best friends from different jobs over the years.”


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