Traditionally, we probably spent more of our waking hours with our colleagues than with our friends and families. Therefore, it was important that we spent time building meaningful relationships with our colleagues not only to ensure that we could all work as a team to achieve our goals, but to generally to make life happier!
However, over the past two years our working habits have hugely changed. Our survey in December 2021 showed that the majority of workers now spend more time working at home than in an office and as such we spend less time with colleagues. Many people have started permanent jobs without ever meeting a line manager or colleague in person and many of the meetings which used to be held face-to-face are now held on video.
So, does this mean that relationships in the workplace are now less important?
I would strongly argue no! There are many benefits that can still be reaped from having strong working relationships and below I explore why.
Improved Teamwork = Improved Results
It could be argued that organisations and individuals should make more of an effort to create the time needed to foster good working relationships because people who know each other well will generally work better together. We will all have had experiences of being thrown straight into working with someone we don’t know and it takes time to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which in turn can slow down progress. More often than not the highest performing teams are ones where people have got to know each other and built strong working relationships.
A workplace with strong relationships if often one where morale is at its highest. Even if we are not together for as long as we used to be, where relationships are built colleagues look forward to seeing each other or speaking to each other which normally leads to the job being done better. When work becomes more fun, the end result is normally higher morale. Happy employees are normally more productive than unhappy ones.
An awkward and tense workplace often ends up with the complete opposite result.
When staff feel connected to the company - whether due to a shared vision with the leaders of a business, or indeed because they connected to their colleagues on a personal level, they are less likely to move to another company. We often hear phrases like ‘work family’ thrown around, but truly when people really have built up strong relationships, it can start to feel like that. Strong friendships take time to build and when they are built at work people are far less likely to move.
Top Tips To Build Relationships
So clearly there are huge benefits to build relationships to both the employer and employee, but how do we build them?
- Be authentic with people.
- Take an interest in your colleagues, don’t be intrusive but learn about their families, hobbies and interests. Take time to listen.
- Ask people how you can help them, but also be honest if you need help and support.
- Ensure time is scheduled for teams to meet in person both in a business environment and in a more informal setting.
- Understand boundaries. To start with you are building work relationships. Don’t be too intrusive and don’t overshare unless it becomes appropriate. Do not monopolise peoples time, or let them monopolise yours.
- Take time to appreciate your colleagues. Tell them when they have done something that you have appreciated.
- Be positive as much as you can, but also do not be afraid to tell someone if you feel they have let you down. Friendship is built on honesty inside and outside of work.
- Avoid gossip! Gossiping at work is rarely positive. It normally leads to someone being hurt and clichés being built.