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Navigating the Shifting Landscape of Work Friendships

Work friendships grow and change just like those outside the office.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Work friendships grow and change just like those outside the office.

Whether you have a work spouse or a work frenemy, the relationships we make at work shape our well-being and productivity. And just like outside-work friendships, they go through changes and conflicts.

Host Anita Rao talks with psychologist and author Dr. Marisa G. Franco about how promotions and job changes can affect work friendships and why companies are so invested in their employees having friends at work. Katherine Hu, a Gen Z assistant editor at The Atlantic, also joins to talk about how younger generations are shifting away from considering offices as their primary social hubs.

Thank you to Clint, Georgia and Nick for their contributions to this episode!

Quiz: What Type of Work Friend Are You?

1. The Tension Tamer

Cracks jokes in the Zoom chat to keep the mood light. Checks in with you after a rough meeting to see if you’re okay. Will share their favorite snack with you during lunch.

2. The Work Hard Play Hard

Always down for a walk-and-talk or a rapid-fire Slack debrief. Partial to a post-work cocktail for taking that work friendship to the next level. Just don’t bug them when they’re in the zone.

3. The 9 to 5er

Models strong boundaries between work and leisure, supports their work friends in following suit. Frequently says “I do not dream of labor.” Will come to your party but will not discuss anything work-related.

4. The Cheerleader

Follows up to all your comments in meetings by saying “I think that’s a great idea,” before adding their own thoughts. Won’t spill the tea first but supports your vents and rants. Will ask you about that story you posted to IG on your day off.

5. The People Person

Loves a creative brainstorm and coworking. Speaks in meme. Organizes all the out-of-office group hangs.

6. Other, or a combination!!

Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

Kaia Findlay is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show. Kaia grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a household filled with teachers and storytellers. In elementary school, she usually fell asleep listening to recordings of 1950s radio comedy programs. After a semester of writing for her high school newspaper, she decided she hated journalism. While pursuing her bachelor’s in environmental studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, she got talked back into it. Kaia received a master’s degree from the UNC Hussman School of Journalism, where she focused on reporting and science communication. She has published stories with Our State Magazine, Indy Week, and HuffPost. She most recently worked as the manager for a podcast on environmental sustainability and higher education. Her reporting passions include climate and the environment, health and science, food and women’s issues. When not working at WUNC, Kaia goes pebble-wrestling, takes long bike rides, and reads while hammocking.
Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.