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An extra family in the workplace

Do close friendships make a workplace better? That’s what the guys in the caretaker’s office at Coor Garnisonen say. You can always get help and support here, says Tim Wiberg, who has worked in the group for three years.

Vaktmesterkolleger | Coor

Laughter, warmth and friendship are words that define the caretaker staff at Coor Garnisonen in Stockholm, Sweden. The team consists of 11 people of varying ages; Isak is the latest acquisition.
“I’ve only been here for five months,” he says, “but I felt right from the start what a great atmosphere there was here — a big difference from my old job. There was a friendship here that warmed my heart right away.”

Tim, who has been here much longer, agrees that the team is extra closely knit. “It’s important to have fun with your coworkers,” he says. “Even if the work is often heavy, we don’t even think about the difficulty when we joke around. We have fun, we help each other out, and we’re not afraid to ask each other if we have questions or need support.”

The team spends a lot of time together, and not just at work. There are plenty of happy hour evenings, Midsummer celebrations — and the annual cruise that no one ever misses.

Other group activities are the Friday lunch, the almost daily ping pong tournaments, and Tim’s piano playing on the lunch break — joint activities that have helped to create strong bonds of friendship.
“You really get help from the group here. We always come up with a solution together. It’s just easier to get up in the morning when you know you enjoy your work and have fun with the people you work with,” says Harka, who’s been at Coor since 2013.
“We have a widely varied job,” he goes on. “Of course some tasks can be less inspiring than others, but even if I have one of those days ahead of me, I still want to go to work, because I know we’re going to have fun.”

Being around each other at work has many advantages. One of them, say the guys, is that you notice faster when something isn’t right.
“We’re so open with each other that it’s clear when someone doesn’t feel well — it’s sort of in the air,” Jeroen says. “I think we see it more than others, just because we know each other so well. If someone isn’t well, we take care of them. I think that at a different workplace, without this friendship, I’d keep more things bottled up inside.”

Friendship also means that you don’t have to pretend, you can be yourself more.
“We know our differences and we let everyone be themselves,” Jeroen says. “That creates security. Our differences also work well in our work. If there’s something I can’t do, someone else comes along and helps. We solve problems faster and manage more things in a day because of it.”

Friendship also makes the customers appreciate their work more, he adds.
“They see us enjoying our work and that creates a good feeling,” he explains.

And their friendship is not just visible in the group — it spreads to the people around them. Åsa Eriksson, who pops up in the break room during our interview, chimes in. Åsa is in workplace service at Coor and works on a different floor of the Garnisonen building.
“I come down here to hang out when I have time,” she says. “It’s really a great gang and you always feel welcome. It perks you up, you get a bit more energy and they’re always helpful if you need anything.”

The guys in the team are practically like an old married couple — they laugh and joke, interrupt each other and bicker, but always with an obvious warmth. That doesn’t mean they don’t get annoyed at each other now and then, though.
“But if we didn’t know each other so well, we’d probably get on each other’s nerves a lot more,” Isak says. “If there’s something that ticks you off, or you think someone does something wrong, you can say it right then and move on, instead of keeping it inside and letting it gnaw at you.”