I am seeing my friend M today. M and I share a subscription to the Roundabout Theater Company, so about six times a year we see a show together. We also see other Broadway shows together, as well as hit up the Fashion Institute Museum and make pilgrimages to Container Store. M and I have been friends about 30 years, since we met at work.

Most people have people at work that they chat with- it could be the person in the desk next to you, or someone on the same bathroom schedule as you, or, like M and I, we used to compliment each others outfits. We began a friendship outside of the office when we discovered out mutual like of theater, museums, classes at the gym, and fashion. M and I haven’t worked together in 25 years, but remain friends. This has been a good relationship.

My husband had one amazing friend from work who he spent time with long after they stopped sharing a work address.

Work friendships can clearly work, and can clearly be good and long lasting.


Are all work friendships good?

What if you become friends with someone in a department that works with yours. You need them to do something, but they do a half assed job, or don’t complete it on time. Can you react appropriate to the situation when someone is your friend? What suffers: the friendship or the work?

What about envy or jealousy? What if you get a promotion that your friend wants? Can they stand possibly working for you?

What if your friend turns out to not be the person you thought them to be? After you get to know them you find that they have traits or characteristics that you find distasteful? That you realize that they might not be a good person? How do you extricate yourself from the friendship when you still have to work together?

Should you continue a work friendships outside the office?

Many companies make people who are dating co-workers sign something stating that the relationship is mutual, and that they won’t let the relationship interfere with the work. Because after a relationship goes sour, does the company really want to deal with the fallout?

I guess in an age of remote work, we might not have work friendships anymore- there’s no chance meeting in the hallway, or getting to a meeting early and having a few minutes of chat. No company softball games or holiday parties.

For our discussion for today, I want you to think about the following:

  1. Do you have work friends that you continue to see even though you no longer work together?
  2. Do you think you should be friends with people you work with, or is it a minefield?
  3. Do you think the office friendship is over due to remote work?
  4. What do you think about dating within the workplace? Yay or Nay?

52 thoughts on “Work Friends

  1. Some of my best friends are people I’ve worked with. I’ve even been their boss. There have been no negative consequences. I still see them now that we’re all retired. When you spend so much time at work, it’s the best place to meet people. And you really get to know them when you work together closely. I’m pretty picky when it comes to making friends and I think that’s kept me out of sticky situations.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re very lucky. My first job, I got promoted, and I was the boss to about a dozen guys. They had no interest in hanging out with me once I was their boss. My husband noticed the youngish people in the department specifically didn’t want to hang with the older ones.


  2. I have many wonderful long-time friends who I met at work. We spend a lot of time at work, often more time than at home, so it only makes sense we would make friends there. There has never been a problem. I often wonder how people who don’t work, make friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have one friend from a job that I still keep in touch with 25 years later. I still have my besties from college who I text with every day. One friend I met at tennis lessons thirty years ago. Two friends for five years from a writing class. I belong to a tea society and we meet up at least once a month either through a tea event or just socially, one friend was a friend of my husbands from college, one close friend and a few minor friends were parents from my daughters elementary school, neighbors from my building, people I know from the gym, and two people who are wives/girlfriends of my husbands co workers. So…tons of ways to make friends…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There certainly are, especially when you have many interests. One of my best friends is the mother of my daughter’s friend from elementary school. We’ve been friends for 40 years!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jobs come & go. A good friend is hard to find, not easy to keep, and irreplaceable. I do keep in touch with some of my friends from work. I don’t live near any of them, but when I am near I like to meet up.

    Also, I’m a relational person. Working without friends would just suck. Life is too short for that! So, hell yes, having friends can be a minefield. And hell yes, I will continue to seek work friends.

    “My” office friendships are currently over – I work remotely as a consultant. It’s just me…and sometimes it’s hard to even be friends with myself. Hah! So…I’m focusing my energy on my “outside work” friends.

    Dating in the workplace – that’s rough. It can happen, but it’s gonna be super complicated!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I always found work friendships were great while I was there…but I had really no interest in seeing them after we left jobs. They were more acquaintances than friends


  4. I’m not so much a work-friend person. Not that I didn’t have work friends, but that there were always age differences, interest differences, ideology differences and often rotating staff that you never really had time to get to know. There were few that I clicked with throughout many careers and those I did were caught up in their own lives as I was in mine. I think I would say I had situational friendships with many, but only a true long term one with just one or two.

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  5. I’m friends with two former flight attendants to this day. We worked together and formed friendships in the 90s.

    The friends from work places after I left the airlines I don’t see anymore. I’m neutral about them. If they reach out I’ll answer, if not, I’m fine with that too. I’m typically the one who makes the effort but I stepped back from that.

    Not sure if I want to mix work and friendship now (although writing is different).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do have friends from work I still see now that we no longer work together. I have had to separate how I feel about their work and how I feel about them as a friend on occasion. I’ve also been the boss of people who were friends and we would still hang out. I’ve been lucky

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a very close friend who was my boss 30 years ago. We were a two-person PR department for a large developer. We shared an office and she never treated me like an employee but as an equal. We took our mothers to Las Vegas to see Frank Sinatra. Her brother was in the entertainment business and got us a table — even though the show was sold out! They moved a table into the aisle for us. She’s my daughter’s Godmother and we talk on the phone like no time has passed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess a lot depends on expectations of what friendship is. Like I have friends I text every day, and others I see once a month, but minimal interaction between. There’s a lot to explore with this

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My work BFF actually lives hundreds of miles away. I often wish she lived closer because I think we’d be real life BFFs if she did. I think work friendships are really important and we shouldn’t underestimate the value they bring to job satisfaction and employee engagement.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a good question. My daughters are 19 and 22 and I think they see the value of work friendships. I do think that many younger leaders and managers in workplaces are too driven by results and politics and they undervalue the importance of friendships and fun in the workplace.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right! During the pandemic, one of our managers started having a monthly virtual “carnival”. We played games and just had a chance to catch up. I loved it and always made a point of showing up. I heard so many people say they were too busy to waste time on that. It’s a shame because now that I’m at the end of my career, I look back and remember the fun and the people, even though the details of all the projects I worked on have faded.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I personally have loads of friends I worked with and I know a few who met spouses at work. But to address what I consider your major point, how do you ever get to know people? Even your best friends could have a quirk, something in their personality that you don’t like or care for. Something you would like them to change. But if you let that rule you, you would not have friends.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh (I hit the reply button too soon) one of my best friends is a guy who I met the first day of the first grade all those years ago in the Bronx. A lot of water under that bridge. OK…now I’m done.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Became friends with and married my wife while on the job, have had multiple friendships over the years with people I worked with some have lasted & some haven’t. Not every job is remote, my job as an archivist scans sometimes centuries old and fragile material that is not possible to do remotely.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have work friends I still see even though I have been retired for 7 years now, most of them from my hospital job twenty years ago, but some more recent. I think there was more of a distinction between work and social life back in the 80’s/90’s and you kept them separate, but when I worked at my small rural hospital, it was like one big happy family – a really great group of people, male and female. We still get together for retiree lunches (well we did pre-pandemic). Re the dating question – it can work, but it can also be a minefield, caution advised. It must be lonely working from home all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I have only one friend where the relationship stood the test of time. Most I feel feel are friendships of convenience…situational. And the boss thing definitely can put strain on friendships

      Liked by 1 person

  13. When I worked from home for a couple of years, I didn’t realize the value of work friendships until I recently go back into an office and developed one. Even if it doesn’t extend beyond the work walls, it’s so nice to have someone you can chat with and feel connected to. Working remote has advantages, but they don’t outweight the disadvantages of missing social connections.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think it, in some ways, depends on the kind of work, the context of the office, if there is one, etc. I’ve met some amazing people through work, some I’m still in contact with, some not. As to dating, that can be trouble if your not careful. I met my ex wife of 20 years at work, which is a very typical experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Remember in the old days before online dating became so commonplace, so many relationships started at work? Many (many) years ago, a good family friend had to leave when she got married to her husband, as there were rules about married people working for the bank where they met.

    I met my ex at work, where there was a lively sports & social club and so were a significant number of couples and family members working together. But because we both had access to the top level of secure data, our relationship was discussed first at a meeting of the company’s executive, and then a full board meeting. I was just about OK with the first, but really cringed at the thought of the second. In the end, they took no action, but I never found out whether that was the result of employment law, or that they accepted we were deserving of their trust.

    I think it can be awkward to date if things don’t work out, but there can also be problems for employers and not just the individuals concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d be surprised if employment law in the UK allows such restrictions, but I’d have to check with my friend in HR to be certain. I know there are huge differences between UK & US law in this area.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. These are all valid questions. I’ve had 2 jobs in my life. I worked in a pharmacy for 2 months and I didn’t even bother remembering my coworkers names. I worked at a tutor center and didn’t mingle with any of the other teachers. I only exchanged pleasantries with 1 because she also is the manager when the owner is gone. The owner proposed to me 3 months after working there and he is now my husband. I stopped working there when I got pregnant with my now 8 year old son.
    As for the 4 questions:
    I never had work friends.

    I think you should be friendly with people you work with, but it’s rare to let a friendship extent outside of work.

    I think the office friendship is harder due to remote work.
    I’m against dating at the workplace because it does affect the work. But I did it and ended up marrying my boss. It did affect my work because…well I don’t want to give details.

    Liked by 1 person

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