STYLE

Do Work Friendships Really Prolong Your Life Expectancy?

15/08/2011 14:31 | Updated 22 May 2015

Researchers from Tel Aviv University discovered that those who believe that they have the personal and emotional support of their colleagues at work are more likely to live a longer life.

But while the conclusion seems logical and having good mates in the office certainly helps the hours fly by, as well keeps the tea flowing quicker, I can't help but thinking too much of our time is wrapped up with work – which ultimately is really unhealthy.

The advent of technology, most pertinently the smartphone, means most people I know never switch off totally from work, and they always checking their email, even when on holiday.

And while I have made a few good friends from work over the years, the majority of them become 'friends' out of the convenience of being in the same place at the same time. You are like warriors together, surviving the highs and lows of your common workplace.

But when you move on from a workplace, there often becomes less and less to talk about with the former colleagues who you thought were true friends. All that's left is the dwindling number of people that you once had in common and the good or bad old days, depending on how much wine has been imbibed.

I have experienced both extremes. My first workplace had a social environment. Drinks in the pub at the end of the day were compulsory, and while I definitely did make a couple of proper friends from the experience and going to work was often quite fun because of the healthy levels of office banter, I started to see less of my real friends as the lines between work events and play began to unhealthily blur.

I accept for some people working can bring a real catharsis and can offer much needed social opportunities. EqI also think in certain lines of work it is advantageous to have a friendly environment.

I've worked in an office where friendships didn't develop and emotional support wasn't there, and it made me value my true friends and want to keep the boundaries between work and life firmly in place.

As with everything, there is a balance to be struck and as many freelancers and self-employed folk can attest, working alone or in an environment where no one speaks to one another openly is tough.

Not being able to ask work colleagues if they would like a cup of tea or even talk about weekend plans, would be the pits and depress most people.

But being able to a draw that line is important and I think key to long term health and potentially greater success in the work place.

The party shouldn't be at the office – it should be at home with your loved one and true mates. That's where the life you are trying to prolong really is.

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