Working with Family and Friends – the Advantages and Disadvantages

May 30th, 2016

Small businesses are often started up by groups of family or friends working together. This can be an excellent basis for a successful venture, meaning you have colleagues who know one another and get on well. But there can also be problems, with tensions from home spilling over into the business and vice versa. Here flexi office space rental provider Basepoint looks at the advantages and the potential pitfalls of working with your nearest and dearest.


Trust: When you take on friends or family to work for your company, you have a relationship of trust from the start, and there will usually be no need to chase up references. You also already know their abilities and have an idea of the strengths they can bring to your business. It is likely you will have shared values.

Getting on Well Together: Camaraderie makes life easier in the office, because it can make work less stressful and more enjoyable if you are working with people you get on with. This also makes communication easier, since you understand one another’s meaning, and don’t always have to explain things in detail.

Engagement and Commitment: Friends and relations will often have a feeling of greater commitment to the company from the start. It is likely your business will be more than just a job to them, as they will be keen for it to succeed and may be willing to go that extra mile, and to work extra hours if this is sometimes necessary. They could have greater loyalty because they want to work with you and so be less likely to leave you for a rival business.


Conflicting Roles: When you work with family, home and office life can easily get mixed up together. For instance, if there are problems between members of a family, it can affect relationships at work. Equally, if you criticise a friend or family member’s work, they might take offence and that could spill over into relationships outside the office. Also, even if things are going smoothly, when your family are your colleagues it can be difficult to switch off in the evenings and at the weekend and avoid talking shop.

Potential Problems with Other Employees: It can cause jealousy within a workplace if other staff members feel the boss is favouring their own friends or relations. This may be especially difficult when it comes to deciding who to promote. There could also be competition between family members, with tensions over issues such as pay and ownership of shares in the business.

Harder to Discipline or Fire a Friend: If a friend or family member is not pulling their weight, it can be very difficult to tell them so. It is even harder to take the decision to sack them – something which could have major repercussions for your personal life. Also, apart from disciplinary considerations, there may be problems if you need to cut a friend or relation’s hours, or to let them go if the business needs to make cutbacks. If you do have to do this, it could cause resentment at home and tensions with other friends and family members.

If you decide to work with friends or family, the best way forward is to be aware of the potential pitfalls in advance. You need to think over the appointment just as much as you would with a stranger, rather than rushing into it, and make sure at the outset that they are qualified for the roles they take on. Issuing a written contract which explains their responsibilities and your expectations can help to avoid confusion later on, and put the working arrangement on a more professional basis.

It’s also important to be prepared to discuss any problems with working relationships which may arise in the future. It may also be a good idea to take relatives or friends on for a trial period initially, to see how well you work together.

Many people who work in family businesses or with their friends find it is very rewarding and wouldn’t want to consider any other way of working. It’s good to be aware from the outset that there can be problems – but there are also major advantages.

If you are looking for a flexi office space rental, Basepoint offers business units on easy and flexible terms within our centres in towns and cities including Southampton, Bournemouth, Waterlooville and Weymouth.

Flexi Office Space Rental – Click here for details of how our fully serviced centres could help your business.