|Anita and me this week at the office|
Gallup’s list of 12 elements include many you might expect, like clearly outlined goals and expectations; a positive, impactful mission; a fair and encouraging supervisor, professional development opportunities. But one item on the list, #10, was a surprise to many. Gallup found that the employees who answered yes to this statement – I have a best friend at work – were seven times more likely to be engaged in their job. They got more done in less time, made fewer mistakes, had more engaged customers and were more likely to innovate and share new ideas.
Yesterday, as I packed dusty picture frames and stained coffee mugs into a cardboard box and untacked faded drawings and finger paintings, paper crinkled, edges curling, from the bulletin board, I thought a lot about why it’s been so hard to leave my job this week. And I realized it’s because I am in the minority.
I am one of only 30 percent, according to Gallup, who have a best friend at work.
Anita and I met 10 years ago. She was a single mom; I was a transplant to Nebraska. Our sons were both barely one year old. She managed the donor database; I wrote press releases and fundraising copy. Her office, filled with cactus and African violets and piles of paperwork, was two doors down from mine.
Our friendship bloomed in ten-minute increments. Once or twice a day, on the way to retrieve a letter off the printer or a stack of bills from the mail cubbies, I’d stop to chat, leaning against the doorframe of her office. Occasionally I’d sink into the 50s-style chair with the worn grey upholstery next to her desk, or she’d pop her head into my office as I sat hunched over the keyboard.
I swear we raised our kids together in those ten-minute bursts of conversation a day. All the joys and frustrations and fears, the euphoric highs and the cataclysmic lows that go hand-in-hand with parenting, and life, really, were exchanged within a 12-foot-by-12-foot office.
Looking back, I can see now how Anita and I both floundered a bit in those early years. Lost and unmoored, uncertain and afraid, we were shell-shocked, I think, bewildered at how in the world we’d ended up where we were. I see now how we grounded each other; how we were each other’s life preserver in a wildly tossing sea.
I don’t claim to understand exactly how having a best friend in the office impacts workplace productivity. I’m sure there are algorithms and spreadsheets to explain all that.
But what I do know is this: you don’t leave the rest of your life tied up in a neat bundle on the kitchen counter when you go to work each day. You carry your burdens and your joys, your anxieties and your sorrows along with you, packing them like you pack your lunch box and toting them right into the office where they sit in the guest chair next to your desk.
And if you’re lucky like me, if you’re one of the 30 percent, you get to unpack those burdens and share those joys and sorrows a little bit at a time, leaning against the doorframe of your best friend’s office with a stack of mail pressed to your chest.
Do you have a best friend in the office? How do you think having an office best friend might impact productivity?
And a note about tomorrow: I don't typically publish a written post on Saturdays, but I am super excited to be guest posting tomorrow over at one of my favorite writers...so will you pop by here for a Saturday read? Thanks!