The Pros and Cons of Hanging out with Colleagues Outside of the Office

The Super Bowl is this weekend and everyone in the office is busy making plans to watch football, eat snacks and enjoy the infamous Super Bowl commercials with friends. As you are making these plans, you may wonder if you should invite coworkers to your Super Bowl party or attend theirs should the opportunity present itself.  Before you make any plans, consider how hanging out with coworkers outside of the office will impact you professionally.


Pros of Forming Workplace Friendships That Extend Outside of the Office

If you are working full time, you spend 40+ hours a week at the office; and during that time, it’s expected that you form positive and professional relationships with your coworkers. Once you have formed these working relationships, you will be presented with opportunities (such as the Super Bowl), to create friendships outside of the workplace.  Here are a few ways that extending that working relationship beyond the office can have a positive impact on your work.

  • Feedback: Having a friendship with a coworker can provide you with a resource that gives you honest feedback. They may feel more comfortable giving you their honest opinion when it is in the form of a relaxed conversation between friends rather than giving official feedback to a coworker.
  • Decreased turnover: Employees who have friends at work tend to enjoy their job more, feel more dedicated to their company and are therefore less likely to leave. In fact, employee engagement through office friendships is an important way that some companies choose to retain their employees.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration in the workplace is often a necessary job function, and it is made easier when you are friends with the people you are collaborating with. You are more likely to listen to their ideas and to feel like you are being heard if you have a friendship with them that goes beyond the pleasantries exchanged between coworkers.
  • Performance: A study titled “Interpersonal Relationships and Task Performance: An Examination of Mediation Processes in Friendship and Acquaintance Groups” found that groups of friends significantly outperformed groups of acquaintances in several areas including decision making. It was found that the groups of friends had a higher level of commitment to tasks and had better cooperation within their group.
  • Job satisfaction: Simply put, it’s easier to get up on Monday and go to work if you know that you will be seeing your friends there. These friendships can make a difference in how satisfied you are with your job and the company that you work for.


Cons of Forming Workplace Friendships That Extend Outside of the Office

Have you ever heard the phrase “work and play don’t mix”? Unfortunately this can be true if friendships between coworkers form outside of the office.  Here are some examples of reasons why these relationships should remain strictly professional and limited to the workplace.

  • Decreased productivity: Having friends who are also coworkers can easily lead to many non-work related interruptions throughout the day, leading to decreased productivity.
  • Exclusivity: Inviting only one or two coworkers to events outside of work can breed a feeling of exclusivity in the workplace that is bad for team morale. Cliques that form as a result of these friendships can be very detrimental to the success of the team as a whole.
  • Expectations: Forming friendships with coworkers can lead to expectations of special favors, promotions and opportunities that others in the office aren’t offered. This puts you in the uncomfortable position of needing to reiterate boundaries at work.
  • Boundaries: While boundaries and parameters are important to maintain in a professional setting, the likelihood of boundaries being crossed in the workplace is higher if you have friendships with coworkers outside of the workplace.
  • Gossip: When you are friends with someone that you work with, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of gossiping with them about others in the office. Likewise, if you are friends with someone outside of the office, chances are that they will know personal information about you that they may choose to divulge to others that you work with.


While no one can decide whether extending your relationships with your coworkers outside of the office is the right choice for you, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before inviting them to Super Bowl parties this weekend and initiating that friendship!