With workers spending most of their time in the office, it won’t come as much of a surprise that employees are turning to their colleagues for spouse-like support.  Latest research finds that 47.2% of UK professionals have or wish they had a ‘work spouse’ – often defined as a co-worker of the opposite sex with whom you have a close platonic relationship, one that mirrors that of a real marriage.

The news comes from the UK’s largest job site, CV Library, which conducted a survey amongst over 2,000 of Britain’s workers to gain a better understanding of professionals’ workplace relationships.

The findings revealed that while only 18.2% currently have a work husband or wife, a further 29% would like to find one at their own place of work, and a staggering 71.5% think a lot of people already have a work spouse without even realising it.

When asked to share the benefits of having a close-knit relationship with a reliable colleague, respondents cited the top reasons as:

  1. They offer support and mentorship – 36.5%
  2. They can provide advice and guidance – 16.1%
  3. It’s nice to have someone to share concerns with – 13%
  4. They offer friendship and companionship – 8.4%
  5. They contribute to happiness at work – 6.1%
  6. They can help further your career – 3%

These relationships typically blossom within the workplace, but over half (52.7%) of UK workers believe the relationship crosses into life outside of work. And while most think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a work spouse when married or in a relationship, over a third (33.7%) of professionals think it could spell trouble for personal relationships. In addition, a further 11.5% believe the relationship is at a high risk of becoming romantic in nature.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library comments: “With UK professionals spending upwards of 35 hours in the office each week, it’s not surprising to learn that they are turning to colleagues for support and guidance.

 Having a close friend at work can bring a range of benefits and could ultimately make staff more productive. It’s important that UK employers recognise the importance of workplace relationships and create an environment that fosters openness and permits workers to socialise.

However, workers must take responsibility and ensure their work spouse relationship remains professional.”

It’s worth noting that while work spouses appear to come with a host of benefits, the relationship could also present some challenges; workers admit that falling out would make work awkward (23.7%), the relationship can be distracting (15.3%) and it could make co-workers feel uncomfortable (8.3%).

These findings further emphasise the importance of work spouse relationships remaining professional at all times.