A study into workplace relationships has found
having a close friend at work can be a major distraction.
Respondents cited excessive chatting, having too much fun and an
inability to separate work from play as contributing to a lack of focus.
"When faced with a work-related problem many people will prioritize
their friendship over their responsibilities to their organization, which
businesses may find concerning," said psychologist and Auckland University
of Technology lecturer, Dr Rachel Morrison.
"Workplace friendships are like a double-edged sword. The benefits of a
friendly workplace can be really positive, but organizations should be
aware of the potential difficulties and how to manage friendships at
According to the study, many people were concerned about going `softer'
with their friends and being expected to treat them with special
"People naturally want to make their friends feel special, but this
conflicts with organizational practices or norms that are set up around
fairness and equality. Difficulty in managing these expectations can
create tension in the relationship."
Respondents also experienced a great deal of anxiety about speaking to
close friends about substandard work. A basic rule of friendship
is being non-judgemental and accepting your friends' weaknesses, but
giving critical performance feedback conflicts with this.
"We also found issues related to confidentiality practices, which could
mean friends have to refrain from sharing information. This can be really
challenging for close friendships that have norms of openness and
disclosure," Dr Morrison said.
Dr. Morrison said organisations should try to provide friendly
environments and encourage workplace friendships, but have policies in
place to manage potential difficulties.
The research was undertaken online with 230 respondents.