A boatload of science shows that having a supportive spouse at home helps professionals perform better at work. But why stop with just one spouse? Science is equally definitive that having a "work wife" also has a huge, positive impact on your success.
Back in Mad Men days, having a work wife was the exclusive preserve of male executives. The term originally "referred to a man's high-functioning secretary; someone who was his wife, but at work," explains entrepreneur Erica Cerulo, who literally wrote the book on the subject together with her co-founder and BFF Claire Mazur.
Of course, powerful men have long valued their work wives. Having a wife to support you is a sweet deal -- at home and at the office. Professional women should get themselves one too. And thankfully, these days they can.
The term has grown beyond its sexist origins to encompass any two colleagues establishing a close, personal, supportive friendship at work. Here's why professional women in particular should think about pairing off at the office (or take a moment to thank their professional better half):
1. It's lonely out there without a work wife.
As Yale researchers Emma Seppälä and Marissa King have pointed out on the HBR website, surveys find that up to 50 percent of us report being burned out at work. Loneliness on the job is a big part of the reason.
"Research has demonstrated the link between social support at work, lower rates of burnout, and greater work satisfaction and productivity. After all, the most important factor in work happiness, a U.K. study showed, is positive social relationships with co-workers," they write.
Bitching about your crazy colleagues and cracking silly jokes on Slack all day with your work wife might be a distraction sometimes, but what you lose in time is almost certainly made up for by an increase in motivation, mental well-being, and ultimately performance.
2. Two voices are louder than one.
Women in particular can sometimes find it hard to get their ideas heard at the office. One way around this is to stick together, just like the women of the Obama White House who reportedly made a pact to repeat and praise one another's good ideas until the men in the room actual took note.
Having another friendly voice in the room can also help women be bolder, speaking up more loudly or venturing riskier ideas. "I feel like when we're in a meeting, basically I feel more able to be vocal or strong about something when it's in the context of something we're doing," Anna Konkle, the co-creator of Hulu series PEN15, has said about her collaboration with her professional partner Maya Erskine.
"When it's just me, I'm noticing that I'm more apt to apologize for something. It's far easier to say, This is our point of view," she continued.
3. You can bring more life into your work and less work into your life.
"Love is patient, love is kind ... but my loving husband simply does not want to gossip for 45 minutes about my co-workers," jokes Liz Krieger in an article celebrating her love for her past work wives for the Cut. She's being funny but she's also on to something.
Your work wife understands all the specific weirdness and complications of your job like no other, so she's better placed to discuss them with you than your real spouse. That venting keeps you from dumping all your professional stress on your kind-hearted hubby at the end of the day. Plus, detaching more completely from work during your off-hours can help prevent burnout.
The opposite is also true. While your work spouse helps you keep office drama at the office, she can also help you bring more of your whole, messy, human self to work.
In a world of long hours and urgent 11 p.m. emails from the boss, a work wife "relationship is a way to bring more life into your work ... to take what is happening in our day-to-day lives and bring the emotional, the personal, and the lightness and fun of friendship into the workplace. So you don't feel like you're constantly sacrificing," notes Cerulo.
Getting a professional ride or die, in other words, is a powerful buffer against all the worst aspects of work and makes going to the office a little sweeter every day. So if you already have one, give him or her a little extra appreciation today.
And if you don't yet, be on the lookout for a potential bestie. Having a work wife will make you a better, happier professional.