There are many studies highlighting the benefits of having friends in the workplace with one recent study indicating employees who have “best friends” at work are seven times more likely to feel engaged in their work and more likely to be satisfied with their lives.

Another recent US study surveying 3,000 workers found that having close friendships at work is not that common, with 41% considering the people they work with purely as colleagues and almost 25% of respondents thought of their co-workers as strangers. Of the 15% that reported having “real friendships” with people from their work, the average number of work mates was five. Senior level workers were more likely to have more friends than their entry-level counterparts, and 29% considered these people as their “best friends”.  2% also report having an enemy at work.

According to this study, the industry you work in dictates how many friends you’re likely to have. Transportation, finance and accounting were considered the industries to have the most friends, with the legal and real estate sectors coming in last. Interestingly, HR and recruiting teams were placed in the “make friends slowest” category, alongside healthcare, engineering, finance and banking and government. The quickest to make friends were the insurance, marketing, advertising, PR, hospitality, retail and real estate sectors.

Also, another study found that having intercultural relationships increases creativity levels. This study found that the determining factor for positive creativity results was not the amount of intercultural relationships, but the duration of the relationships.

While some employees might be hesitant to strike up a friendship with their work colleagues, it may be in an employer’s best interest to encourage such friendships.