Most of us see our co-workers five days a week for at least eight hours a day — if not more — so bonding almost inevitable. It's totally okay to become work friends, joke, have lunch together, and maybe even grab after work drinks every Friday night. Who doesn't want to love the people they work with? In fact, according to a survey done by PGI, 71 percent of millennials want their co-workers to be like their second family. But getting too close can sometimes do more damage than good.
"There used to be a very clear separation of where work began and ended. That has gotten fuzzy over the years for everyone, especially after the recession," says Rosaida Morales Rosario, the founder and president of Rosario & Associates, a small business firm that specializes in change management, organizational development, and diversity.
"People are working longer hours leading to socializing more with co-workers and the only way they're going to do that, is if they go out for dinner or drinks together after hours."
"There's also a tremendous blurring of what's work and what's not work because of the way in which millennials tend to communicate and this is in large part due to technology," says Rosario who gave us some insight on why setting healthy boundaries at the job are important along with tips on how to create them!
Just because you have a great working relationship with your co-worker and a ton in common, doesn't necessarily make you friends. "Define who our real friends are versus acquaintances," says Rosario. "A friend is someone that will be there for you when you're sick, that will come visit you in the hospital, that will be there for you when you're down, that's a friend."
Don't get personal on the job
If you do happen to be really good friends with someone you work with, it's okay to share personal information with them, just not on the job. "You can talk about your boyfriend troubles outside of the job, not on the job because what you're doing is having non-work related conversation," says Rosario. "Also, you can go into dangerous territory discussing sexual relationships and then getting hit with sexual harassment or establishing a hostile work environment."
Don't vent about work at work
"Venting on a job about the work, a colleague, or a supervisor is a hard no. You never know who's going to overhear and that could burn bridges" says Rosario. "You also never know when your relationship with the individual you're venting to will go south and that can be used against you." Seek out a mentor outside of the business for advice on how to deal with difficult work situations.
Don't discuss salaries
"There's just no need for this," says Rosario. "You're either going to find yourself bragging which is never pretty, or venting, which we already discussed should never happen."
It can prevent you from moving up
Becoming too close with a co-worker can sometimes come in the way of moving up in your career, whether it's because they like you too much to promote you or if you're being associated with someone on the job who's not considered dependable. "I know of supervisors who have liked a person so much they don’t want to let them go,” says Rosario. This is why setting boundaries is so crucial.
Have boundaries on social media
"It's okay to be friends with your colleagues and supervisors on social media but you need to have filters" says Rosario. "I have categories for family, close friends, and acquaintances on Facebook and depending on which category I slot them in, they get either little or a whole lot of access to what I put out there. But certain things shouldn't be posted on social media period." That means no sexy pictures or posts about your boyfriend problems ladies!