The modern organisation can look very different to traditional configurations.  It is not only office furniture that has evolved but also the very nature of the workplace.

In new style organisations, better working relationships with colleagues have never been more important.  In the absence of strong hierarchical structures, cooperation is the way in which things get done.

Human beings are social creatures.  We do better in environments where there are positive interactions and the tone is friendly.  It makes for a more productive and healthy workforce.

Many organisations arrange outings and team-building events to promote better relationships.  In our everyday interactions, however, we can build better relationships with our co-workers.

Here are some of the things we can do:


  1. Practice common courtesy
    This can be as simple as saying, “Hello” to passing colleagues.  It means maintaining eye contact with co-workers.  Giving a friendly smile, and taking the time to learn a person’s name, will enhance any relationship.  Do not ignore your colleagues as if they are part of the office furniture.
  2. Be a master at email
    Much of the communication that takes place in an office is done through email.  One could write a whole book about how to use email in the office environment.  A few handy tips on the way you should and you should not use email include:


    •  Be clear in the subject line about the content of the mail;
    •  Keep your message professional and to the point;
    •  If you copy someone in to an email, tell him or her why you are doing it.  “Hi Peter, I am including you as these are the travel dates we were speaking of”, for example;
    •  Do not copy the whole world. Only include those that really need the information;
    •  Never copy someone’s manager in on an email when you are trying to resolve a dispute.  Rather approach your manager for assistance;
    •  In fact, never try to resolve a dispute by email.  Speak to the other party in person, or your manager as is fit;
    •  Do not fire off an email in anger.  Write a response and then save it as draft.  Return to the email after some time has passed and you are thinking more clearly;
    •  Check the name in the address field and make sure that the person to whom you are sending your email, is your chosen recipient.  Many an embarrassing, awkward and potentially damaging situation could be avoided by implementing this practice.


  1. Respect the time of your co-workers
    Showing respect for the time of others is key in building good relationships with colleagues.

    This means be on time for meetings, attend the meetings to which you have agreed, and come prepared.   Don’t approach colleagues with work problems when they are obviously busy with other things: on a call, at the grocery store, eating their lunch.

  1. Facebook is for friends
    If you would like to connect to work colleagues on social media choose a platform such as LinkedIn.  Keep Facebook for your real friends.  Do you really want your colleagues to see the picture of you at your friend’s bachelor party?  Good advice would be to keep that picture off Facebook in the first place!
  1. You may be “part of the office furniture” but welcome new employees
    You may have been in the organisation so long you are “part of the office furniture.”  It can be hard for new employees to assimilate into the work place if they are not welcomed in and included.  Never fall into the trap of thinking, “That is not how we do things around here?” New employees bring new ideas and insights and should be welcomed into the organisation.
  1. Appreciate diversity
    Different people bring different skills to the organisation.  Not everyone is like you.  They do not think the same, and you may not even like them.  You can still have a good working relationship and benefit from their unique input.
  1. Avoid gossip and office politics
    If you have an issue with a colleague, deal with that person directly.  Do not air your grievances with other co-workers.  Gossip will only cause mistrust and hostility in the environment.


It takes more than nice office furniture to have a pleasant working environment.  Cordial relations with co-workers and a spirit of cooperation make the workplace a fun place to be.  You could be spending more time with your co-workers than your own family.  It makes sense to build good relationships.

Share →