Whether you’ve just started at a new job or you’ve been there for quite some time, it’s becoming increasingly more common for colleagues to take office connections online. It’s normal to create bonds with your co-workers, but you may not want them to be able to see every time your parents upload a picture of you as a baby in the bathtub.

With 91 percent of online adults using social media regularly, the chances of your colleagues adding you online are fairly high. Although many Facebook users tend to keep their pages private to only their close friends, family, occasional acquaintances, the social platform is making the move toward being a more professional outlet. In fact, a recent study shows that 84 percent of Millennials include at least one employee in their Facebook networks.

If you’re looking to bridge the colleague-friend gap, a simple friend request might be something you’ve considered doing, but keep in mind there are pros and cons to adding your colleagues or boss to your social networks.

Here are a few pros and cons of “friending” your colleagues:

Pros

It’s a good friendship builder. Occasionally, friending a co-worker might seem like second nature if you’re close at work. Friending a colleague could be a great way to stay in touch and take your friendships outside of the office.

Facebook has privacy settings. The social platform offers many unique settings to ensure your privacy. Whether this means clicking to approve all tagged media before its posted, or the simple option of adding friends to a “limited access” list, you can still keep a level of privacy while accepting online connection requests from co-workers.

You have nothing to hide. Many individuals don’t see the problem with accepting friend requests from colleagues because they either rarely use Facebook or they see it as part of their professional network.

Cons

You could still lose your privacy. Forget to post a status update only to your “Friends & Family” list? Facebook can get pretty personal on occasion. Slip-ups happen, and many employees feel friending a colleague isn’t worth dealing with the consequences of their personal information being viewed by someone they know professionally.

You might come to resent your colleagues. Social platforms are often an outlet for voicing opinions. Even though your colleagues might be quiet and neutral in the office, you never know what you could find out about them when you click the accept button. There is definitely such a thing as TMI.

You might be crossing a line. If you’re a manager, you could put yourself in a potentially awkward position by friending the people who report to you. This could include learning the social habits of your staff during office hours or maybe reading a status update griping about their job — no thanks. The same goes for employees considering friending their superiors.

Accepting colleague friend requests should be done with caution. Your inbox might be bursting with requests, but there’s a lot you should take into consideration before “friending” your colleagues or boss online.

How do you manage your personal and professional friendships online?

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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