Having meaningful friendships at work may actually be a psychological necessity according to psychologists Sigmund Freud, John Donne, and Abraham Maslow. In fact, Maslow ranks “love and belongingness needs” in his hierarchy of needs above only physiological requirements like food, shelter and safety.

With the average work week approaching 40 hours, Americans spend nearly 23.8 percent of their adult lives at work. Since you most likely see your co-workers more often than your friends, it’s likely these workplace acquaintances will grow into strong bonds of friendship. The benefits of these connections extend beyond the workplace and have even been hypothesized to impact your health.

We’ve outlined 12 of the most important reasons backed by scientific research below:

12 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Make Friends At Work

In their book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, Tom Rath and Jim Harter found only 5 percent of the workforce strongly agreed their workplace is conducive for building stronger personal relationships. This is important for businesses as 91 percent of employees who did not socialize in the workplace were found to lack engagement in their work.

The benefits of building and maintaining friendships at work will have you adding to the already 56 percent of workers say they have good friends at work.

The benefits of having friends at work actually infiltrate every facet of life as the line between work-life and personal-life becomes blurred. We already know that friendship increases the brain’s production of oxytocin but being around a friend also decreases cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Work-related stress is a huge problem that could potentially be alleviated by friends in the office. Some of the issues attributed to stress include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches

The most concerning result of stress is one’s lack of interest in socializing. This vicious circle will need to be broken and friendships made for overall increase in productivity, job satisfaction, purpose and loyalty to the organization.