Industry Trends

What Makes a Great Coworker?

Graphic of coworkers in office

Let’s do some math. You work around 40 hours a week for about 50 weeks a year, give or take a few sick days and vacations. What does that mean? You’ll spend an awful lot of time with your coworkers – about 2,000 hours every year!

That’s why coworkers who are more than just workers are so great. Not only do they make your shift fly by, but those strong relationships also create a positive and productive work environment. There’s a lot you can learn from one another. It all starts with finding a peaceful, collaborative way to coexist. How are you as a coworker? Read on to find out what makes a great coworker and see where the best coworkers are in the United States!


What state has the highest-rated coworkers? For our study, we surveyed 2,000 people from every state and asked them to rank their coworkers on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being awful and 5 being great). The survey ran for a week at the end of November 2021. To gain additional insights into what makes a great coworker, we asked what the best traits a coworker can have are, how much Americans trust their coworkers, and how working from home has affected coworker relationships.

Coworker Ratings in Each State

A U.S. map showing coworker ratings in each stateWhere do the best coworkers live? Where does your state rank? The results are in! Based on survey responses from over 2,000 Americans, the national average is 3.79 out of 5. While not many states stray too far away from that figure, those on the West Coast and in the Northeast tend to have higher coworker ratings than those in the South and Midwest. Leading the Northeast’s exceptional coworker trend is The Green Mountain State. Vermont has clearly mastered the art of being a great coworker with an average rating of 4.05 out of 5, which makes it the state with the best coworkers in the nation! Meanwhile, the state where you’re most likely to find an average picture of coworkers seems to be North Dakota, as it’s the only state to mirror the national average of 3.79. Let’s take a closer look at other states with outstanding coworkers.

States With the Highest-rated Coworkers

A bar graph of states with the highest coworker ratingsHaving great coworkers makes going to work a much more enjoyable experience. Building positive relationships with your fellow employees is one of the most important determinants of engagement and productivity at work. New Hampshire and Minnesota trailed closely behind Vermont and are among the states where you are most likely to find great coworkers, earning a tie for the second spot with ratings that are 5.50% above the national average. That’s not the only tie! New Jersey and Wisconsin shared eighth place with coworker ratings that put them 3.09% above the average. Nevada is the state with the lowest-rated coworkers, with an average rating that is 10.44% below the national average.

Coworker Relationships

A graphic showing statistics on Americans’ relationships with their coworkers

So, how do you feel about your coworkers? Are you chatting at the office water cooler or walking by? Do you even have a water cooler to congregate around anymore? The forced change from working onsite to working remotely due to the pandemic has caused many companies to rethink their corporate philosophies and left some employees longing for days back in the office.

Adapting to working remotely became a vital part of the job description for many Americans, but how much of an impact has it had on employee relationships? 34% of remote-working Americans say the option to work from home has positively affected company culture. 18% say working from home has had a positive impact on their relationships with coworkers, while 33% say it has made them feel more inclined to develop relationships with their coworkers.

Beyond the impact of remote work, we also found that in many cases people often consider their coworkers to be more than just people with whom they happen to work. 65% of Americans talk to their coworkers outside of work, 68% keep in touch with coworkers from previous roles, and 20% said they would apply to a job just to work with an old coworker again. Those are some meaningful relationships. To further illustrate that point, 45% of those surveyed feel comfortable venting to their coworkers about personal issues, 19% feel close enough to their coworkers to tell them things they wouldn’t even tell their family or friends, and 17% actually consider their coworkers to be family. A big part of that closeness comes down to simple trust. Over 70% of Americans trust their coworkers, but how far does that trust go?

What Makes a Great Coworker?

A graphic showing of best and worst coworker characteristicsNow that we know how Americans feel about their coworkers, it’s time to find out: what makes a great coworker? 35.9% of those surveyed think the most sought-after trait a coworker can have is being collaborative. Other traits people like to see in a coworker are honesty (22.1%), adaptability (14.6%), and being communicative (10.3%).

On the other side of that coin, the traits Americans think their coworkers could do without are passive-aggressive behavior (33.7%), excuse-making (18.4%), entitlement (15%), gossipping (14.6%), and being a control freak (14.4%). Some of these traits can be anxiety-inducing and are likely part of the reason why 72% of Americans would feel worried that things that needed to be done at work wouldn’t be completed if they were away for some reason.

While “fun” may not have been among the most important traits a coworker can have, it can still be an important part of work for many Americans. At least, for younger generations. While every generation agreed that it was more important for a coworker to be good at their job than fun to work with, it was closer for some than others. Nearly 45% of Gen Z respondents think a coworker being fun to work with is more important than being good at their job, compared to just 16% of baby boomers who feel the same way.

Closing Thoughts

No matter who we are or where we work, we should all strive to be the best coworkers we can. Being a good team member fosters a healthy workplace and can make your coworkers less stressed, more engaged, and more productive.