How to Use Tech to Foster Friendships in Flexible Workplaces

Catherine Tansey
November 1, 2022
desk booking, office friendships, office culture, people operations, HR

It can be hard to draw your workers into the office when the company offers a hybrid workplace arrangement. Among other things, inertia plays a role here—employees are wont to stay put, especially if it's what they've become used to, or if they have a long commute to the office or caretaker responsibilities at home. 

Yet we know that employees who return to the office, even intermittently, report being happy to have done so.

Remote work works, but it can never replace the energy and joy of good in-person collaboration. What’s more, it’s easier to develop camaraderie and build friendships at work in person. 

In this article, we're taking a deeper look at how companies can boost camaraderie on teams and foster workplace friendships by inviting employees to work together from the office, and how to use tech to help facilitate this and make it easier.

Related content: Is There an Ideal Hybrid Work Schedule?

Why having a work bestie is good for everyone 

Workplace research firm Gallup says the most polarizing question they’ve ever asked is, “Do you have a best friend at work?”

The firm reports that executives and senior leaders often laugh or bristle at the question, suggesting that work is not about making friends. Yet Gallup’s “research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.”

Consider some of Gallup’s findings:

  • People who say they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with those who say otherwise (29%). 
  • 56% of the people who say they have a best friend at work are engaged, productive, and successful, while only 8% of the ones who don’t are.

Gallup also finds that if orgs can increase the number of people who agree they have a best friend at work from 20% to 60%, they would have:

  • 36% fewer safety issues
  • 7% more engaged customers
  • 12% higher profit

While it will never be possible to force friendship, companies can provide tools and implement policies to support in-person work and camaraderie—the first steps to having a BFF at work. 

Related content: Why Re-Engaging Your Workforce May Be the Best Cure for Quiet Quitting

Camaraderie makes for high-performing teams

Camaraderie is the feeling of companionship, trust, and goodwill shared by those in a group.

This special blend of chemistry, trust, respect and friendship is a secret ingredient in the workplace, allowing teams to collaborate, generate new ideas, communicate effectively, and disagree respectfully. It’s noted as a common factor on high-performing units, from professional sports teams to the military and in the business world. 

Simply put, camaraderie makes work more enjoyable and enables teams to achieve goals with ease.

In-person work makes it easier to develop friendship and camaraderie

The physical separation of a hybrid workplace doesn’t make it impossible, but can make it harder to sustain the connection and sense of closeness that feeds workplace friendships and camaraderie. 

The flexible world of hybrid work, employees may be hesitant to come into the office for fear of being the only one present, or commuting to work just to sit on Zoom calls—which makes complete sense. 

To counter this, organizations should promote working together IRL, as it allows for richer work and non-worker interactions. You can encourage coming into work by using tools to make it easier to coordinate in-office time with coworkers, and make collaboration easier. 

Using a desk booking tool like Eden’s to motivate workers to come on-site and invite their colleagues to join them is an easy, effective way to do this.

Overall, desk booking tools make it easy to secure a workspace for the day, saves money by reducing office footprint, and can even support pet-friendly workplaces. And, in terms of building camaraderie, eliminates the worry that you'll come into the office only to be the only person there (because, really—what's the point of that?), and makes it easy to coordinate with work friends and make sure you're both coming in on the same days.

Eden’s technology also allows employees to invite coworkers to join them and include a personal note, as well as get alerts when their office bestie books a desk reservation. Employees can easily view their outstanding invitations and respond accordingly. The tool is easily accessible through the mobile app, integration with Slack and Teams, or directly via the web dashboard. 

Related content: What Is Desk Booking Software (And How to Implement It Successfully)

How to use tech to foster office camaraderie and support workplace friendships

  1. Get clear on your vision: If you want a culture of camaraderie and team spirit, you must make this a priority. Take inventory of the resources you have to support initiatives aimed at getting workers into the office, and get cross-functional buy-in. 
  1. Bring on additional tools: Consider tools that enable this in the hybrid workplace, like Eden’s invite and follow a colleague features. This thoughtful touch can get more people in the office, and don't forget the rule of reciprocity—meaning that employees who receive invites will be likely to return them.
  1. Run internal communications campaigns to spread awareness: Create campaigns focused on building camaraderie—for example, hosting a “Bring a Coworker to Work Day." Don't be afraid to have some fun with it; after all, a campaign to encourage workplace friendships doesn't need to be overly serious!
  1. Promote via leadership: Culture is downstream from leaders in an organization. Creating a workplace culture that values camaraderie and friendship at work hinges on leaders of organizations modeling and encouraging this behavior. So, incentivize your leadership team with awards, special shout-outs, etc. for booking desks, coming in semi-regularly, and leading by example overall. Encourage managers to invite direct reports into the office for their one-on-ones, and remind the employee that they, too, can bring a colleague to work. 

While hybrid work allows for greater flexibility in our everyday lives, it can also leave team spirit and connection with colleagues feeling flat. To bolster workplace friendships and support camaraderie, it's important to get your team working together again in-person, even if it's only semi-regularly.

Tech like Eden’s desk booking tool simplifies the process of securing a workspace for the day, and comes with thoughtful touches like the ability to invite colleagues to join for an in-person work day. If you're interested in seeing desk booking in action, click the button below to book a demo!

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