When you consider the amount of time you spend with your work colleagues, it’s natural that many of your deepest friendships may develop there.

Office friendships make your work hours more pleasant and productive as long as you address the built in complexities of money and power. Try these strategies for balancing the personal and professional aspects.

Benefits of Friendships at Work

1. Enjoy greater job satisfaction. Friendships at work increase employee satisfaction by almost 50, according to surveys by The Gallup Organization. You’re bound to feel better when you like and trust the people you work with.

2. Make it easier to resolve conflicts. Having a better understanding of each other can help prevent many conflicts. Even when there are disagreements, you’re more likely to seek win-win solutions when colleagues care about each other’s welfare.

3. Boost productivity. Office friendships are good for business too. Stronger teams develop and employees are motivated to contribute more.

Strategies for Friendships at Work

1. Establish boundaries at work. Social media has put a spotlight on the consequences to your career of revealing too much personal information. It’s a relief to just be yourself, but keep it in perspective. You may want to keep your dating life and college pranks private.

2. Remain objective. Respect your friends by following the rules and procedures without expecting special treatment. This is especially important if you’re close to your supervisor. Maintain the quality of your work by sharing unbiased feedback with each other.

3. Limit socializing. Monitor yourself to ensure that any gossip remains good natured and harmless. Watch how you spend your days. By getting your work done in a timely manner, you can help reassure your employer who may be concerned that being buddies can lead to slacking off.

4. Be supportive. Office alliances serve as an opportunity to help each other do well. Be there for each other to relieve stress, talk things over and lend a hand during busy periods.

5. Reach out to others. Protect workplace morale by avoiding cliques. Strive for an inclusive workplace. Invite others along when you and your pals go to lunch. Mingle with others at birthday parties and holiday events.

Additional Suggestions

1. Recognize the extent of your connection. Even if you feel very close to a colleague you see every day, that connection may still be limited to the context of work. When one of you changes jobs or even departments, the bond may soon fade. Expect such relationships to fluctuate.

2. Maintain relationships and support networks outside of the office. There’s a good reason why family and friends outside of the office are the most important relationships for most people. These connections are usually more enduring because they’re based on personal qualities. They also provide balance even when your career is genuinely rewarding.

3. Recommend friends for open positions. Most employers appreciate recommendations from current employees to find candidates for vacancies. If there are former colleagues you enjoyed working with, it’s a great way to get back together. If you’re considering recruiting a personal friend, you may need to evaluate how having the same employer could affect your relationship.

4. Start your own company together. Many people are leaving traditional jobs to start their own ventures. If you have a best friend at the office, they may make an ideal partner. After all, you know you enjoy working together and it’s even better if they have a complementary background and skills.

Building strong social connections at work can make you happier and more productive. Go ahead and befriend your colleagues to create a supportive atmosphere while respecting professional boundaries.