You spend most of your day at work. Why not make some friends while you’re there?
You won’t just have more fun — you’ll be happier and work better. Gallup research shows that developing close friendships at work boosts employee satisfaction by almost 50%.
And while we don’t always choose our friends with career success in mind (company happy hour, ahem), there are some people in the workplace whose friendship can actually make us perform better on the job.
Whether or not you want to spend time with them after work, it would behoove you to develop at least a pleasant rapport with them.
Here’s our top five:
1. The IT Manager
When your computer freezes, your emails disappear, or you can’t for the life of you remember your password, there’s only one person to turn to: the IT manager.
They may or may not be someone you’d actually hang out with outside of work, but make sure they’re your buddy on the job.
Between making sure your computer won’t crash just before a big deadline and having the power to see everything you’ve ever done on the Internet, this is someone whose good side you definitely want to stay on.
And this means more than just smiling when you ask them for help. Be friendly even when you’re not having a Windows crisis! Strike up conversations in the kitchen, find out where they’re from, ask them what they’re doing over the weekend. Be their friend and when the company orders a new MacBook Pro — and they get to choose who gets it — you’ll be at the top of the list.
2. The Veteran
Chances are there’s someone at your company who’s been there longer than you. She knows the processes inside out. She’s connected to all the right people. She was there when the company still offered free snacks, for goodness sake. She’s your go-to gal for any question you have that you’d rather not ask your own manager.
But beware — all veterans were not created equal. Some are more willing to help than others, and it’ll take some time and research to pinpoint your match. The veteran you want to make friends with is the one who has been most welcoming since you first started, the one who is patient and has always been comfortable answering your questions.
Ideally, she’s someone whose company you actually kind of enjoy, and who you have other things in common with. You don’t want her to feel like your friendship is a one-way street.
3. The Cross-Department Crony
No matter how much you love your job, there are always things you need to vent about. And while it’s helpful to talk to others who share your job function — and therefore your specific grievances — sometimes this kind of relationship can be dangerous territory. You might end up feeding off of one another’s negativity or reinforcing their biased opinion. And what happens when one of you gets promoted? Talk about awkward!
A safer shoulder to cry on is one that belongs to someone who works in an entirely different department. They may be able to give you a more objective perspective on your situation than someone who’s deep in it with you. They’re far enough removed from the situation and most importantly, your own boss. And finally, they may confess to you their frustrations with their own crazy department, which will make you feel better about yours!
4. The Office Manager/Receptionist
She keeps the stock room … well … stocked. She plans company outings and makes reservations for your business trips.
Above all else, she makes sure the whole organization stays afloat. Don’t you want to stay afloat with it?
Get on your office manager’s good side and, hopefully, she’ll look out for you where she can. The secret is most office managers get a little tired of being ignored. Often, people only talk to her when they need something.
Be a better friend than that! Go to lunch with her. Make her job easier by cleaning up after yourself. Refill the coffee maker when you’ve taken the last cup (you know you should be doing this anyway, right?).
Get to know your office manager above and beyond what she can do for you, and who knows where you’ll end up.
5. Your Work Best Friend
Need to someone to cover for you when you have to leave the office a little early? Looking for a colleague to bounce crazy ideas off of? Someone you trust to share gossip with (you just can’t hold it in anymore!)? Your work best friend’s got you covered.
According to Vital Friends author Tom Rath, people who have a “best friend” at the office are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work.
Your best friend is the person who you are absolutely closest to and, unlike the other friends on this list, you will probably spend a significant amount of time with them after work.
This type of closeness can be great for your productivity, your stress level, and your overall happiness — but it can also be dangerous if you have a falling out. Work hard to nurture this friendship but be prepared for the consequences if for some reason it doesn’t work out.