Do Friends at Work Make the Office a Better Environment?

DATE: Nov 10, 2017 
AUTHOR: Mandy Dennis, RDH

You graduate dental hygiene school and begin looking for a job. Your dental hygienist friend lets you know her office is hiring. You think having friends at work could help you adjust to your new job.

Could it get any better? Or should you think twice about the pros and cons of mixing your personal and professional life?

Friendly Coworkers Provide Support

On average, people spend more of their waking time with their colleagues than their families. According to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Americans work an average 38.6 hours per week, excluding vacations and public holidays. It is natural for people to want to not only get along with their co-workers, but have friendly relationships with them outside of the office. Separating your personal life and professional life isn't always necessary. If you have personal relationships with the people you work with, it may boost your motivation and keep you more engaged in the workplace.

By developing friendships in the office, you may be able to rely on each other more than if you were simple acquaintances. For instance, you may be more likely to fill in for each other when emergencies pop up and you need to swap shifts.

You probably choose friends based on your shared ideas and hobbies, and similar personalities. For example, how many of you have been to RDH's Under One Roof and spent time meeting people who are truly engaged in the profession? Wouldn't this be the same type of person you would want to work with?

When Should You Separate Work and Friends?

Everyone has probably had a falling out with a friend. If coworkers had an argument that happened outside of work hours, the resulting tension may have an effect on the rest of the office. Or if a supervisor has a close bond with a team member, the rest of the team may perceive favoritism. Then, that tension may trickle down, invade the whole office environment and the patients may pick up on their dental hygienist's bad mood.

Another unfortunate turn can be if one friend takes advantage of another. If a friend covers shifts constantly, personal details about one's life may get in the way of a professional relationship. Someone's personal circumstances may make a friend feel obligated to pick up the slack. This may lead to resentment in the workplace.


  • Evaluate the people you work with to identify if you have similar personal and professional beliefs.
  • Consider the benefits your friend can bring to your productivity.
  • Find the balance to ensure you can separate professional and personal relationships.

Why It's Important

Everyone wants a happy place to work. Working successfully with friends at work is possible as long as boundaries have been established and you both remain professional at work. Open communication and respecting the workplace is important to focusing on the task at hand. Making healthy friendship choices at work are just as vital as the healthy choices dental hygienists recommend to their patients.