Workplace friendships in the time of COVID


Date: 24 May 2021

Colleagues laughing during a lunch break

A new study has looked at how workers across a variety of industries feel about their friends at work and how the pandemic has affected these relationships.

Business support platform Rovva has polled 1,000 UK office workers to learn more about the importance of workplace friendships. The research reveals significant differences in the way that employees socialise with their colleagues in different sectors.

The key findings show that those working in IT and telecoms are most likely to say their work friends are important to their workplace happiness, with 72% saying so. Those working in travel and transport are least likely to say the same (53%).

People working in sales, media and marketing are more likely to make work friends, with an average of nearly five friends in each case. They are also most likely to make friends with their manager (70%). Meanwhile, managers are most likely to report friendships with their staff in IT and telecoms (69%).

When it comes to socialising after work, this is most common in the architecture, engineering and building sector, where 92% of those polled say they often socialise with colleagues. In contrast, just 67% of workers in IT and telecoms say they socialise with colleagues.

Those in HR are the most likely to confide in their work friends about their mental health, with 23% saying they share these concerns - more than any other sector.

Unsurprisingly, many of those polled said how much they had missed chats at work and days out with work pals because of the pandemic. Almost half (46%) of those people working in architecture, engineering and building said they miss going out for lunch, while 45% of those in sales, media and marketing miss going out after work.

Interestingly, those working in the hard-hit retail, catering and leisure sectors are most likely to have linked up with their colleagues on social media. Those in travel and transport are least likely to connect with their co-workers online.

"We know that friendships really enhance the workplace for many people," said Jon Abrahams from Rovva. "Work lunches, activity days out and even just a quick chat in the office kitchen can really boost our moods during the work day.

"We're not surprised to see that people have found it more difficult to make friendships in the workplace during the pandemic. After seeing the results of our survey, we hope that more people can find the time to get to know their colleagues better, creating long lasting friendships."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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