Americans spend the majority of their days with their coworkers.
But how many of our colleagues are more than just someone to share a cubicle wall with? According to a new study by Olivet Nazarene University, only 15-percent of our coworkers are considered “real friends.”
The study surveyed 3,000 Americans across 21 industries to see which ones have the widest and smallest friend groups, how most people classify their colleagues, and what people feel comfortable discussing with their coworkers.
The average person has five work friends, but most respondents (71-percent) said they didn’t consider anyone they worked with a “best friend.” But some industries lead to wider friend circles than others.
Individuals working in the transportation field have the most work friends (10), on average, than any other industry, followed by those in finance (8), accounting (8), marketing and advertising (7), and manufacturing (6). Conversely, the industries with the smallest friend groups include those in the legal profession (3), real estate (3), and skilled labor and trades (4).
The majority of survey respondents reported feeling satisfied with the number of friends at work, with only 20-percent saying they didn’t have enough and four percent saying they had too many.
Employees inevitably end up chatting with their peers throughout the day. Most people say they discuss non-work-related tops for less than 30 minutes a day with their colleagues, and the topics range from personal to downright private.
According to the study, 58-percent of people say they discuss their love lives with their colleagues. Just over half (53-percent) discuss health issues, 64-percent say they discuss conflicts with coworkers, and a third (33-percent) discuss financial matters.
The topic of income is not as taboo as people might think. The majority of workers (68-percent) say they talk to their coworkers about how much they make.
But office friendships aren’t built to last. Only 18-percent of people surveyed said they closely stayed in touch with their former coworkers after they left their job or company.