With the average American worker spending almost nine hours a day at work, our workplaces can often become a second home to us. Sadly, we spend more waking time at work with our colleagues than what we do at home with our family. And this can lead to many of us having an affair at work – but not the kind of affair you might imagine.
It’s the 21st-century workplace, and given the amount of time we spend in close proximity to colleagues, it comes as no surprise that many of us will develop close relationships with the people we work with. A certain kind of “romance” blossoms, and before you know it, you have a work spouse: a colleague who you share a special bond with that can feel like a marriage – minus the sexual intimacy.
But, the concept isn’t new. In fact, the phrase “office wife” goes way back to 1930 and Faith Baldwin’s novel The Office Wife, but it has only very recently been embraced by society as men and women are viewed as peers in the workplace. And while the term “office spouse” usually applies to colleagues of the opposite sex, it can be used for same-sex relationships; just look at J.D. and Turk in the popular TV sitcom Scrubs.
If you work with someone who you jokingly call your “work husband” or “work wife”, it might not be much of a joke anymore, because it’s actually good for you. And here’s why:
1. You Always Have Someone to Have Lunch With
Your lunch break can be a very lonely hour, especially if you don’t get along with everybody in the office. Or if you’re quite the socially awkward penguin, you might not feel very comfortable enjoying your break with people whose names you don’t even know. The break room, which should feel like an inviting and welcoming place, therefore, becomes your very own personal torture chamber. Until, of course, your work spouse swoops in to save the day.
One of the best things about having a work spouse is that you never have to eat alone again, carefully scrutinized by colleagues from another department at the next table who either feel sorry for you or think you’re diseased. Your pseudo-husband or wife will even save you a seat, and an added benefit is that you don’t have to worry about table manners.
2. You’re Far More Productive
It does sound counterintuitive, but numerous scientific studies show that having a work spouse makes you more productive. In fact, Gallup confirmed that you are seven times more likely to be engaged in your job when you have a work friend. And if you work directly with them, it’s even better: you’re motivated to work harder because more is on the line than just a missed deadline, an unhappy client, or negative feedback from your boss.
3. You Enjoy Work More
Work can often be monotonous and soul-crushing, especially when you have to perform the same tasks day in and day out, eight hours a day, five days a week. But one of the greatest things about having a work spouse is that they can help you break the monotony of the daily grind by simply being there, making you laugh, and motivating you. They can also serve as an antidote to stressful workplace situations
Randstad’s 2010 Work Survey, meanwhile, found that 67% of American workers who had a BFF at work made their jobs more fun and enjoyable while 55% said that their jobs were more worthwhile and satisfying because of these relationships.
4. You’re Happier
Being in a romantic relationship or married to someone you love will no doubt make you a happier person. And considering the similarities between the bond of a romantic relationship and a working one, the same should, therefore, apply to work spouses. And it does.
In fact, numerous studies have explored the link between having a work spouse and happiness, and one UK survey of 1,000 workers revealed that a whopping 70% of respondents said that friends at work were the most crucial element to a happy working life, followed by money at 55%. Emily Esfahani Smith, meanwhile, said that having a friend that we see regularly has the potential to increase our happiness as earning $100,000 more a year.
5. You’re More Likely to Be Successful
You’ve almost certainly come across at least one person whose motto is, “I’m not here to make friends; I’m here to succeed” in your career. But they might be going about things the wrong way because workplace friendships can play a major role in career success.
Managers like employees who get along with each other and this could lead to being looked at more favorably for a promotion down the road. And when you’re up for that promotion, your work spouse will be able to put in a good word for you, your accomplishments, and your work ethic.
Do you have a work spouse? What other benefits of having a work husband or wife can you think of? Tell us in the comments section below, and don’t forget to show your work spouse what they mean to you by sharing this article with them!