In a New Normal, Work Friendships Seem Harder to Forge. Are they a Priority?

Work Friends.
Image via iStock.

While everyone was working remotely during the health restrictions of the pandemic, a lot of workers learned that they don’t miss commuting to work. And according to The Wall Street Journal, many also learned they don’t miss having work friends.

The article cites a survey from Gallup which revealed that currently, only 17% of workers feel they have a best friend at work, which is down from 22% in 2019.

Those numbers may very well change drastically as more young workers enter companies, though. WSJ featured anecdotes from middle-aged employees who said they do miss how they don’t have as much camaraderie at work now.

But new workers couldn’t care less. Another survey by Capterra revealed that when polling people between ages 18-25, half of them said that workplace friendships were not important to them at all.

It might be that since younger workers entered the workforce with pandemic restrictions in place, they grew accustomed to being distant from their colleagues and don’t find it unusual.

When broached with the idea of giving it a shot, some felt reluctance due to fears that the friendship could not truly be trustworthy. Some felt there was always the possibility a coworker could share something detrimental with their boss later on.

Others stated that their dislike of workplace friendship is based more on a desire to get work out of their mind once the day is done. They would rather spend time with their spouse, enjoy their hobbies, or even pick up extra money through freelance jobs.

Some felt hanging out with coworkers was basically just extending their work shift into the night.

The rejection of work friends is not unanimous, though. Some really enjoy getting to know who their coworkers are beyond what function they serve. Several people felt not being on friendly terms with a colleague makes everything feel robotic and more lonely.

However, whether it is a generational attitude or a side effect of remote working, many people are now very driven by work-life balance. That means protecting time for their personal lives and not allowing their company to become their entire life.

To learn more about how people’s attitudes have shifted towards friends at work, see what The Wall Street Journal reports here.


Career coach Jennifer Brick talks about how to keep work friendships friendly and professional.


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