I never thought I would say this, but I actually miss having co-workers. Since leaving the a typical office environment, my days went from having lunch and drinks with my writing team to sitting in my house writing alone and staring at my dog. Before the life of a solitude freelancer, I dreamed of not having to deal with co-workers and not being obligated to hang out with them at work functions or random happy hours. But now I miss the interaction. Well just a little bit.
The majority of people in an office environment spend more hours with their co-workers than family members. Office friendships are an important part of life that sometimes spill over into private lives outside of normal working hours. But there there are both positive and negative aspects to socializing with co-workers both at work and after office hours.
At a previous job, my coworkers for consisted of 6 women from the ages of 33-65. Although we were at different stages in our lives, we were still able to relate to each other and always shared stories and advice. We did the occasional happy hour or dinner, which helped us to stay close. But there were times when we wanted to ring each other’s neck. Although it’s been almost a year since we’ve all worked together I still keep in touch with a couple of them and we’re still a part of each other’s support system.
Other benefits to socializing with co-workers include:
- Everyone needs a support system at work when shit hits the fan and becomes stressful. I mean, who else are you going to complain about your crappy company to?
- There’s no “I” in team. Strong teamwork with co-workers typically makes the day run smoother. The camaraderie that is formed after hours can easily translate into teams that function better before 5 pm.
- Once the work day is done, being able to let your hair down after work gives you a chance to learn a co-worker’s personality and can help you understand how to deal with the person better.
- There were times when I was labeled the curmudgeon of the office when I avoided after work functions at all costs. But eventually I learned that in order not to be perceived as the “snobby” one, occasionally you have to go with the flow and chill with the co-workers.
But of course, with every pro there’s a con. Sure hanging out with co-workers can be fun, but occasionally it can all go downhill. Sometimes there’s that one bad apple that ruins the bunch. I’m sure everyone has experienced that co-worker that tries to rain on everyone’s parade, either with jealousy or being conniving. This type of co-worker can bring even more he-said-she-said to the afterwork crowd, so it’s best to either avoid socializing with this person after work, or keep them within arms distance.
Here are a few dangers in becoming too involved in the lives of your co-workers:
- You may occasionally run into that jealous type of co-worker. You know the one who’s upset that you’re spending too much happy hour time with Sharon, and leaving them behind.·
- If you’re hanging out with the “boss” after hours, some may think you’re just being a brown-noser.
- But what happens when you become the boss? It may be awkward hanging out with your former co-workers when they’re your subordinates.
- What happens after work, stays after work. No one wants to be “that” co-worker who can’t maintain their composure after hours and becomes the talk of the office.
- Then there’s the issue of gossip. Whether you’re a man or woman, everyone is susceptible to it, especially if you happen to send a lot of time with your co-workers after work.
There’s nothing wrong with forming friendships and socializing with co-workers after hours, but in order to keep the drama away, keep it professional.