Why finding a work buddy is your next superpower
By Micah Yongo
Jan 27, 2023
We’ve all been there — a challenging task on the go, approaching deadlines, and zero enthusiasm in the tank to kickstart things with. Finding that spark of momentum to get going on a meaty project isn’t always easy, especially when you have to find it alone.
Although there are countless studies to show the benefit of working by yourself, we humans remain social beings. We thrive off of connection and interaction, both socially and professionally.
This presents a dilemma, because we know that working without distraction allows us to focus more easily, yet working in isolation often undermines the motivation that's needed to consistently work well.
So, how can we bring these two things together to get the best of both worlds?
This is where having a work buddy comes in.
What is a work buddy?
Perhaps you’ve had a study mate or gym buddy in the past, someone alongside you with similar interests or goals to work beside and be spurred on by. Having a work buddy is similar.
A work buddy is someone you work alongside on boring or challenging tasks you'd otherwise procrastinate on. Although we often think of a work buddy as someone to collaborate with on a shared project — i.e. a colleague, or co-worker — this doesn’t have to be the case.
Simply hunkering down to get things done in the presence of another human being has been shown to be a valuable advantage. It’s to do with a phenomenon called body doubling, where being in the presence of someone helps to anchor your attention so that you can focus on your work more easily.
You might experience this body doubling effect when working in a library, or perhaps a coffee shop, or office, or coworking space. The quiet company of others engaged in work of their own helps to dampen the mental ‘noise’ that can lead to procrastination by triggering mirror neurons in your brain.
This is why it can often feel easier to concentrate on your task when surrounded by others who are doing the same thing.
Finding a good work buddy creates the accountability you need to harness this effect, flick your mind into focus mode, and stop procrastinating, so that you consistently tick off your to-dos. It’s the superpower you never knew you needed.
Flocks are online deep work sessions that use body doubling to free you from distraction and take the willpower out of productivity.
Try a Flock for free today, and see how much you can tick off your to-do list!
When do you need a work buddy
Although a work buddy can come in handy with any task you’re working on, there are a few scenarios where having one can be especially helpful.
According to research by employment platform Zippia, nearly half of working Americans (45%) have a side hustle, whilst a report by digital marketplace Airtasker suggests a similar percentage of Britons (46%) are also currently active in the gig economy, rising to 70% among young professionals.
If you’re interested in retraining alongside your day job, or starting a business on the side, finding a work buddy can offer the psychological nudge you need to push through the added load more easily and quickly — so that you pivot your career without losing out on your personal life.
So, whether you want to retrain as an electrician, start a restaurant, or get into web design, finding a reliable work buddy can make the difference when it comes to getting your key tasks over the line and protecting your wellbeing.
A work buddy can also be an advantage when it comes to long term projects like learning a new language, or studying for a PhD.
But whether you need help to push through the more mundane items on your to-do list, or fresh impetus with your new year’s resolution, having someone alongside you for the journey can be the perfect solution.
So, what makes a good work buddy, and how can you go about finding one?
What makes a good work buddy?
Finding the ideal work buddy isn’t always easy. Often it can help to begin by thinking intentionally about your own personality, and the kinds of people who tend to inspire you when it comes to being disciplined or working to achieve a goal.
One person’s ideal work buddy may be another’s worst nightmare.
Nonetheless although preferred traits will vary from one person to the next, there are a few common attributes you may want to look out for when it comes to choosing the best person to buddy up with to take your productivity to the next level.
A good work buddy isn’t easily distracted
Being distractible can be a superpower, as it can mean an alertness to ideas and experiences, which is great for spurring creativity. But when it comes to focusing on your tasks you’ll want to work alongside someone who doesn’t struggle to sustain their concentration.
Doing this creates a mirroring effect, as seeing your work buddy get down to their work will motivate you to do the same.
Think of someone you know has a history of following through on their plans. This may be a friend who is especially punctual, a co-worker with a record of performing well under tight deadlines, or perhaps even your most organized family member.
Taking time to identify those in your circle with sound working habits can be the difference between accelerating your progress with your work or slowing it down.
A good work buddy feels good to be around
It’s important to feel comfortable around your chosen work buddy, as enjoying their company will help to create a positive feeling toward meeting up with them to do your work. This is to do with the impact of what some term ‘vocational behavior’, where positive relationships with those you work with or around can positively effect your output.
Forming this kind of association between your work buddy and what you’re working on is especially useful when building toward longer term projects like:
Writing a novel
Studying toward a qualification
Learning a new skill
Chunky goals like these will often call for a degree of consistency. Having a work buddy you enjoy being around offers added incentive when it comes to building the steady work/study habit you’ll need to stay on track.
A good work buddy isn’t too chatty
Socializing can be great, but it can also be a distraction when it comes to your work. Although I'm not suggesting you become a recluse, or take up Charles Dickens’ habit of rebuffing dinner invitations, it’s important to recognise that making a work buddy out of someone you normally end up chatting with is likely to scupper your progress and sabotage your goals.
Instead, think about someone you know will respect the aims you’re seeking to work toward, and has aims or tasks of their own they’ll value the opportunity to work on. You’ll find it far easier to engage in productive stints of focus if your work buddy shares your desire to get down to work when the time arrives.
How to make the most of your work buddy
Once you’ve found your work buddy, you may find it helpful to set regular times and days of the week to pair up. Building routine into your work buddy meet-ups will allow you to find the mental groove you need to sail toward easy progress with whatever you’re each working on.
Use online work buddy meet ups
These days many are finding in-person work buddying tricky to pull off. With the difficulty there can be in lining up schedules or organizing a suitable space to work from together, leaning toward online focus sessions can be an especially effective alternative, and in many instances more productive than meeting in person.
With FLOWN’s assortment of easily accessible online deep work sessions running throughout the workday, it’s the perfect space for both you and your work buddy to join with likeminded others from all over the world to power through your most challenging tasks.