What is a Work Spouse?

In my lifetime, I’ve heard a lot of ideas about management and productivity.  But one that is new to me is the idea of a “work spouse.”

We need to make one thing clear right away — this has nothing to do with sex.  A work spouse is simply a friend you can trust, respect, and count on.  This idea has been growing in popularity over the past few years.  According to a survey from research and analysis company Office Pulse, 70 percent of workers in 2017 said they had a work spouse, up from 65 percent in 2010 and 32 percent in 2006.  Two-thirds of those who have such a friend said that the relationship contributes to their happiness in the workplace.  Other surveys bear that out — a Gallup survey reported that 63 percent of women who have a work spouse said they were engaged at work, compared to just 29 percent of women without such a best friend.

And not all of these friendships follow the same form.  They can be between two men, two women, or between gay and straight, like a gay man and straight woman.

What do work spouses discuss?  Office Pulse says the top topics are work (81 percent) and co-workers (75 percent), with real spouses coming in at 44 percent.   The majority have lunch with their work spouse (73 percent) and spend time together outside the office (59 percent).

When it comes to a workplace running smoothly, it’s whatever works.



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