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Is this the end of work friends?

It’s getting harder to make work friends, but workers don’t seem to care.

It’s hard to say whether Jim and Pam would have fallen in love over Zoom, but there’s no question the quirks of Dunder Mifflin’s office brought them closer together.

Future generations may watch “The Office” and marvel not only at Michael Scott’s timeless stupidity, but at the concept of “work friends.”

The office…

… is the second most common place to make friends, behind only “the neighborhood,” according to research from The Wall Street Journal.

But, with only 34% of knowledge workers in the US working in-office full time, that’s likely to change. A couple recent findings highlight why this is bad news for corporations:

  • Data suggests workers with a “best friend” at work are more likely to stay at their job.
  • Hybrid workers with a “best friend” at work dropped from 22% in 2019 to 17% in June.

Now corporations are taking it upon themselves to forge these relationships, scheduling in-person retreats, on-site training sessions, and virtual coffee chats.

But do workers even care?

A recent survey found US workers consider relationships with co-workers to be one of the least important factors of job satisfaction. Work-life balance and compensation ranked highest.

  • Gen Z values work friendships the most, with 16% of 18-25 year olds saying it’s the most important factor to job satisfaction

While it’s unclear how the Dunder Mifflin crew would have fared in a remote work environment, “The Office” cast did reunite for a Zoom wedding in 2020.

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