Lessons from Unemployment: Don’t Mix Friends and Coworkers

One hard lesson unemployment imparted is the danger of counting coworkers among friends. While losing my job was difficult, severing the friendships I’d made at the office was harder to bare. After all, I’d spend many long days with a small group of people, and friendships tend to develop under such circumstances (ah, the life of an accountant during tax season). Knowing that I was let go while my friends were retained created an untenable situation that made continued friendship impossible.

A recent blog post discussing the “work-life” balance entirely misses this point, and speaking from experience, it is better not to develop such close relationships. When coworkers inevitably move on, be it voluntarily or not, the stress that arises from severing such friendships is likely not worth the relationships that develop. Instead, one should endeavor to build strong relationships outside of work, not only because these can endure layoffs and other workplace departures, but because such friendships also provide an escape from work and its related stress, an outlet for venting work-related frustrations, and, overall, a diversion from one’s job that helps maintain sanity.

Would you agree? If you’ve been laid off, did your experience force you to sever ties with former coworkers you considered friends?