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Forget Work Friends, More Americans Are All Working in Business

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A few months before leaving his last job in 2020, Michael Trotter became dreading the end-of-day questions from his colleagues.

“I don’t want to spend eight, nine, ten hours out drinking beer and four hours talking about work,” said Trotter, a 53-year-old database administrator in Cupertino, California. increase. .

Many workers say building office friendships has become more difficult and less of a priority over the past two years.

After more than two years of the pandemic, some professionals are “quietly quitting” and making other moves to carve out more work-life balance. This includes reducing socializing and bonding at work.

With many employees still working remotely, the role of friendships in the workplace is under great test as companies look to reshape office culture. Of nearly 4,000 hybrid workers surveyed by Gallup in June, 17% said he had a “best friend” at work, down from 22% in 2019. did. A close work friend reported less slippage, from 20% to 19%.

On the other hand, the data suggests that the link between having a best friend and feeling dedicated to your work has strengthened over the past three years. According to Gallup, which has been surveying employees about their friendships at work since 2010, about 15% of people who don’t have a best friend at work said they were very happy with their jobs this year, compared with 2019’s less than 23%.

Trotter says the occasional after-work social was exhausting, and he spent even less time with his family. In his new, mostly remote position, he says he’s not interested in forming working friendships.Two years later, he met two of his teammates in person, but each We only met for a minute.

“It’s a lot easier when the work is done,” he says.

Juliana Pilemer, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business who studies work relationships, found that reliance on Zoom calls and other virtual workplace forums fosters and maintains work friendships. It is a burden for many people, he said.

“Friendships at work are the bleeding out of this world,” she said. , the urge to spend no more time with colleagues is understandable.”

Chad Eslinger, a mechanical engineer from the Minneapolis area and a self-professed extrovert, says he craves early in his career when he and his friends from work got together for karaoke and other social gatherings. increase. At his current job, he said, his colleagues don’t seem to prioritize being social.

“I want real friends at work,” says Eslinger, 45.

A recent survey of nearly 1,000 US employees identified co-worker relationships as the least important factor in job satisfaction. (Compensation and work-life balance ranked as the most important of 14 options, according to the online software marketplace Capterra, which conducted the survey.) Nearly two-thirds of them say its value has declined. for them to socialize and get to know their colleagues.

Some employers seek to help coworkers develop such bonds. This summer, KPMG invited his 2,800 intern class to the Lakehouse Training Facility in Orlando, Florida. This training facility is complete with social spaces, guest rooms and a gym. A spokeswoman said she hopes face-to-face socializing and networking will help many interns eventually accept full-time job offers from accounting firms.

Software giant is using a resort south of San Francisco as a work and wellness center for about 70,000 employees. Staying at a Salesforce retreat combines work or training with wellness activities like yoga and hiking to promote social bonding, the company says.

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Just as the pandemic arrived and remote work began, the youngest professionals entered the workplace, keeping colleagues physically distant from each other. Many in his 20s now say they don’t want change. Half of workers between the ages of 18 and his 25s say friendships at work are ‘never important’ or ‘little important,’ according to research by Capterra, owned by Gartner Digital Markets. .

Nathaniel Richards, a 22-year-old software engineer from Muskegon, Michigan, says he’s outgoing and wants to expand his circle of friends. He worries that his co-workers will react negatively to what he has shared about his personal life or pass it on to his boss.

“I don’t want my life completely open to anyone I have to work with,” he says.

At his previous job, colleagues would meet and chat virtually on Fridays, he said. But when they discussed lawn care and their children, he says he didn’t have much to contribute. He says he wants to work for Lance.

“It’s your time,” he says. “I value that more than making work friends.”

Write to Lindsay Ellis at

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