I have been at my current place of work for over nine years.
In that time I have seen a number of people leave, both in my department and across the organisation. In the past month, two people who I have worked closely with for the best part of a year have left.
Some colleagues we may call friends, good friends even. We may socialize outside of work. This could be a monthly evening out down the pub, or perhaps running a marathon together as part of a ‘work team’.
But what about when the inevitable happens, and your working lives take different paths?
I was in my first ‘real’ job for four years. It was at a small firm, and for the most it did feel like working with a group of friends. I remember leaving. Promising to stay in touch, we’d all make a big effort to make sure it happens, we were more than just ‘work friends’.
I attended the Christmas Party later that year, arranging to meet up with old colleagues in the months after I left.
Then life happened.
It happened slowly.
I didn’t attend the following Christmas Party and arrangements were cancelled and rearranged, never to materialise. It was sad but I never felt sad, we were busy with our own lives. We no longer had the shared experiences, no longer spending most of our waking hours in close proximity, the bond that had brought us together had gone.
It may sound glum, but it was the reality. But there is good news.
Four years ago, a colleague in my current job left to move to another part of the country (UK). The same promises were made, we were going to stay in touch because we were more than just ‘work friends’.
We are perhaps closer now, despite living nearly 150 miles apart.
The difference is clear for me to see.
In the former, we were work friends. We had common interests but it was working together than brought us together, it is unlikely we would have bonded if we met in any other walk of life. In the later, we were actually friends. The fact we met at work was just chance, our friendship would have grown regardless of what path in life brought us together.
My first point is that work friends are important. These are the people we spend so much time around and share many of our experiences with. Colleagues who make our days and weeks that bit more enjoyable, but despite our best intentions we usually go our separate ways eventually.
My second point is more important. Realise how special our actual friends are.