This is the big problem with being friends with your coworkers

ABC Family’s The Bold Type is a series about three super millennial best friends working at a magazine (inspired by Cosmopolitan) that will be starting its second season later this month. Though Jane, Kat, and Sutton all have different jobs and work in different departments (editorial, social media, and fashion) they are all still coworkers at a fairly small-staffed magazine.

Now, these are the kind of friends that live together (Jane and Sutton do), begrudgingly workout together, participate in peaceful protests together and even as we saw in the Season 2 trailer, pick each other up at the airport. I didn’t even think people knew they could still do that. However, there is a good chance they also have to work together given the nature of their jobs, especially Jane and Kat.

Work friendships can be amazing and even beneficial to collaboration and productivity, however, they can also be quite awkward and even detrimental according to research highlighted by Melissa Dahl in The New York Times. Dahl is the editor of New York magazine’s Science of Us, and the author of  Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness.

Work friendships are just trickier

Dahl explains that most of us would go above and beyond for our friends (and the airport is definitely beyond) in our personal lives but at work that is a lot trickier. You can’t always go out on a limb for your coworker just because they are your friend and what if this friend isn’t pulling their weight at work and leaving you to pick up the slack?

Dr. Methot who published a study in Personnel Psychology on work friendships or “multiplex relationships” as she labels them told Dahl, “You’re kind of pulled in these two different directions. Do I behave professionally, or do I try to continue to maintain or invest in this friendship?”

Another big problem with workplace friendships that causes major issues is that people stop communicating what they want or expect because they believe this so-called close friend will just automatically know what they want.

Methot advises people to remember they are coworkers first and friends and they should keep this in mind even when they are in social settings with this person.