We know the pitfalls of mixing business with pleasure, either becoming romantically involved with a coworker or in entering a business venture with your significant other. But what about friendship? Does it mix with business? We have witnessed friendships strained as a result of doing business with one another, but have also seen many ventures thrive because of the dynamic and energy between the two parties. Whatever the case, you must be extremely cautious with whom you choose to bring into your workplace, enter their workplace or embark on a joint business partnership. At the same time, in certain cases there should be boundaries on workplace friendships and how chummy we are with our coworkers both at work and outside of work.
Keep it Separate
Even if you become best friends with your coworkers over time, join a company where your best friend works or enter a business partnership with a friend; be very clear on establishing a clear distinction between your friendship and working relationship. As much as you’d like to unleash all the juicy details from the date you had the night before to your friends the second you get to work in the morning, reserve the banter for lunchtime, your mid-afternoon coffee break or an after-work cocktail. Not only will perpetual gossip, making weekend plans or joking around distract from the work tasks at hand, it also looks extremely unprofessional to superiors and coworkers who are outside of your circle. After all, it is a workplace, not a high school.
Take Work Friendships Slow
Anyone who has worked for any company knows that a certain degree of workplace politics is inevitable. The unfortunate reality is that in this cutthroat economy, we have seen some of our YP friends and peers suffer the professional repercussions of others who are in the game for themselves and will throw their co-workers under the bus for their own advancement. For this reason, it may be wise to take work friendships slow and build trust gradually. No matter how close you become with a coworker, try to keep workplace grievances (and rants), politics and gossip out of it.
Your Boss is Not Your Best Friend
If you and your boss are BBQing on weekends together, having non-work-related drinks and are otherwise ingrained in one another’s lives, this is will likely create issues with coworkers. Not only may they feel excluded, they may grow to question the motivation behind your recent promotion, new corner office or exclusive industry event invitation if you and your boss are seemingly best friends. No matter what, your boss is your superior and there should never be a loss of professional respect and integrity for his or her superior role, no matter how close you become.
Think Carefully Before Entering a Business Partnership with a Friend
Just like choosing a roommate, think closely as to whether or not you enter a business relationship with a friend. Consider your habits, your work ethic and the way you work. For the entrepreneurial set, are you the type to take breaks throughout the day, go to yoga class, and then revisit the work later on in the evening (even at 1am)? Or are you the type that sets defined work hours throughout the day? Make sure you are on the same page. You both also must be clear on both of your goals, the vision of the company, branding and division of labour and responsibilities from the start. Draw up a professional contract between you and your friend/new business partners outlining every operation, division of labour and division of finances. Yes, this may seem awkward, but young professionals have gotten over the awkwardness of a pre-nup just fine.