Work might have its woes but there are some perks that make office life just that little bit better. And whether we care to admit it or not, a work spouse is one of them.
The vast majority of British workers have a ‘work wife’ or ‘work husband’ that our actual partners may not know about, with 73% of us saying that we have a ‘special, platonic friendship with a work colleague characterised by a close emotional bond’.
And, according to the research by Krispy Kreme, almost half of those with a work spouse (43%) admit they are more likely to confide in them than their actual husband or wife.
The study also reveals just how highly we value these special working relationships.
Three in ten workers say they’d actually quit their current job if their work spouse were to leave.
Understandably, this can cause problems at home. One in five women (19%) and one in eight men (38%) confess that the closeness of a work relationship has caused their real partner to raise an eyebrow.
This may explain why 13% of workers – rising to 19% of men – don’t mention the close bond with their work spouse at home at all.
How to identify if you have a work husband or wife
Psychologist and wellbeing specialist Lee Chambers tells Metro.co.uk shares how to identify if you’re colleagues – or work spouses.
‘When it comes to having a spouse at work, there are a number of signs that indicate you are more than just colleagues.
‘You will enjoy each other’s company, and often find humour in similar things. You will find yourself naturally supporting each other at work, celebrating each other’s success but also keeping each other accountable and focused.
‘Conversations will flow naturally, both about work and about life in general, and opening up and being vulnerable will feel easier because of the trust and warm rapport. You will find this plays out in workplace socials, where you will gravitate together, and at work, where you will often be found together during breaks and downtime.
‘Some other things to consider are that you are more likely to cover for each other, have the desire to protect each other, and be very respectful of each other’s strengths, often championing them.’
So is this a good or bad thing?
Chambers adds: ‘Like many things in the workplace, it can have a positive or negative impact.
‘Workplace friendships are a vital part of our wellbeing, given how much time we often spend at work. Supportive and positive interactions, and a feeling of not being alone can be significant factors in the employee experience and boost job satisfaction. And work spouses can keep each other motivated, accountable and focusing on their strengths.
‘It can also be a challenge, leading to the blurring of professional boundaries, potentially present a conflict of interest, can become a distraction from both a personal productivity and team dynamic perspective, and may cause moral considerations and feelings of favouritism, resentment and envy within teams.’
Nevertheless, the survey of 1,561 workers found there are real benefits to such a friendship in the workplace, including benefitting the respondents’ mental health, providing a more enjoyable work environment and having personal support at work.
Psychologist Dr Audrey Tang adds: ‘Research has found that close work friends or work spouses can become ‘communities of coping’ – people you can turn to at times of stress who really get it.
‘Many people even stay longer in their places of work because of the friendships they have formed there.’
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