Americans spend an average of 47 hours a week with their coworkers. But despite these long hours together, we don’t seem to be making friends at work—only 30% of Americans consider their coworkers to be their friends. HR protocol often restricts personnel from getting too personal, but 47 hours a week is a lot of time to spend with near-strangers.
Work could be a little less stressful and a little more fun if you had, at least, one friend in the mix. Someone with whom you laugh with after a meeting goes awry or who will sing with you at the office happy hour karaoke party.
Enter the work spouse.
A work spouse is a platonic partner who has your back in the workplace. They are loyal, supportive, and basically your 9 to 5 BFF. Being in a work spouse relationship includes all sorts of benefits like:
Lower stress levels: Work spouses add more fun and laughter to the work day. Think sporadic shoulder massages that never fail to brighten the mood.
Having an emotional outlet in the office: If either of you need to cry or are angry at work, the work spouse will get you to a safe venting place (preferably with a punching bag).
Ongoing moral support: When one of you needs to talk it out, a work spouse is there with a listening (and non-judgmental) ear.
Coaching that inspires: Work spouses can keep you motivated to do your best when the stakes are high, and stress is rampant.
How do you get a work wife or work husband? Well, until a Tinder for work relationships (Wkr?) comes out, you’ll have to go about it the old-fashioned way: courting. Follow these steps to be on your way to work spouse bliss.
Identify a suitable workmate: Just like in romantic relationships and out-of-work friendships, compatibility is key to a successful work spouse relationship. Look for a workmate who shares similar perspectives to your own. Did you both raise your hands when HR asked, “Who wants more parental leave?” Were you the only two people who signed up for the inter-office fantasy football team? Or did you both reach for the last avocado in the office kitchen? That sounds like a future work spouse.
Get to know them: Once you’ve got someone in your sights, observe them in the office to learn more about their personality. You’re around each other all the time, so this should be easy. Maybe you’ll see them piling their plate with cheese at the next happy hour. Now you know they like cheese. You are closer already.
Go out for a first work-date: This is as simple as saving a seat for them at the next meeting.
See if they want to go steady: Once you’re sure that they’re the one, make your move. Not in a weird way. Maybe just send them this article or something.
Keep the workmance alive: After you’ve settled into the relationship, consider how you can continue to lighten up your work wife’s day in an unexpected way. Maybe it’s fresh challah left on her desk with a post-it that says, “Challah for friendship.” The choice is yours—follow the ancient proverb that goes something like, “Happy work wife, happy work life.” Let that be your guiding light.
Do you have a work wife or work husband? Tell us how you make each other’s work lives better by tweeting: @JoinRelate.
Chelsea Larsson is a content marketer for Zendesk and a frequent contributor to Relate. She believes any problem can be solved with a pen, paper, and Pimm's cup. Find her on Twitter: @ChelseaLarsson.
Olivia Kingsley is a copywriter. She believes in the arts, slow-scrambled eggs, and beginner’s luck. Olivia can be found on Twitter: @oliviakingsley