When Do Coworkers Socialize? Institutional Differences and Informal Coworker Relations

Thomas Lyttelton , Yale University

Informal social relations between coworkers matter a great deal for both employees and employers. Social ties help workers find work, and improve job satisfaction and group performance. Yet while there is a rich body of research on the causes and consequence of individual-level variation in social relations for workers, we know very little about how they vary between kinds of work and workplaces, and how employers might foster or hinder sociality between coworkers. This article uses time diaries from the American Time Use Survey, 2003-2016, to examine the relationship between coworker sociality and job, workplace, and occupational characteristics. It finds large variations in coworker sociality between occupational classes and by insititutional characteristics, including union status, schedule flexibility, and levels of team-based work. These patterns are hypothesized to be a result of levels of in-work interaction, multiplexity of in-work interaction, and status homophily.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality