There’s another reason why your career choice can have a profound effect on your health, and it’s got nothing to do with your hours or job-related stress — recent studies have found your co-workers can affect your lifespan. More specifically, the more friendly you are with your colleagues, the longer you’ll live.
Researchers from the Department of Organizational Behavior at Tel Aviv University studied 820 adults from a range of backgrounds, all of whom were between the ages of 25 and 65 and who worked an average of 8.8 hours a day in a variety of professions. They were surveyed over a 20-year period with questions about how well they got along with their supervisors and peers at work.
Over the 20-year span, it was discovered people who reported low amounts of social support at work were 2.4 times more likely to die than those who felt they had a support network in their co-workers.
“Work should be a place where people can get necessary emotional support,” says lead author Dr. Sharon Toker. And rightly so. Besides our family, our co-workers are the people we spend the most time with, so it’s important we feel we have positive and supportive relationships with them.
What does this mean for you, then? Unless you’re the boss, you probably don’t get to handpick your co-workers, so make the best of the relationships you have with them and do your part to create and maintain a positive mutual respect for one another. Toker recommends opting for face-to-face communication rather than depending on email and even suggests being friends with your co-workers on Facebook might be a good idea (provided you do don’t use it to rant about your boss — or worse, them.)
Bottom line? Be friends with your cubicle mate. It could save your life.