You spend a solid amount of your time at the office, so it's inevitable that you'll make friends with coworkers. As you should! Coworker friends are proven to make your work experience that much more enjoyable, and they even act as your advocate throughout your career. There are countless benefits to having workplace friends. But you have to remember that they're just that: workplace friends.
This means that as much as you love spending time with them and chit chatting about your weekends over coffee in the kitchen on Monday mornings, you have to tread especially carefully and pay mind to boundaries that your other friendships may not have.
With that said, here are the three golden rules to messaging coworkers.
You should use your words wisely and exercise caution when messaging coworkers. We're not saying that you can't trust your new friends just because they're your coworkers, but you should always be careful about what you put in writing, especially if its via company software.
If you don't want there to even be a chance that someone else in the office finds out that you were talking about quitting your job, or that you took another interview for another job, or that you really can't stand your teammate, don't send it in a message to your coworker. You don't want physical evidence floating around.
Especially don't badmouth anyone in the workplace, spread gossip or share anything you don't want the company knowing about via the company's own messaging software or your company email. There's a chance someone may be monitoring your communications in the workplace, and you don't want to put yourself in a bad situation.
This is true of all friendships, of course. But workplace friendships may have more or different boundaries than your friendships outside of the office. For example, your coworkers might not want to share their personal lives in the workplace, or they may not feel comfortable talking about certain topics with work friends. Be respectful of these personal boundaries, as you don't want to make anyone who works with you uncomfortable.
With outside friends, they can choose to spend time apart if they're uncomfortable. They can't choose not to come to work — and they shouldn't have to risk their career by not coming to work or avoiding contact with their team because you crossed a line.
In the same vein, respect your coworkers' version of a work-life balance. If this means that they take their weekends to spend time with their families, don't message them all weekend about work at the office that can wait until Monday. If this means that they take their paid time off to go on an actual, unplugged vacation every year, don't message them the entire time they're gone, despite their out-of-office email.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.