After graduating from nursing school, I was lucky to land a position at a major hospital system in a big city.
It was my dream job: an ICU nurse. But although I was excited about my new role, I realized pretty quickly that I was in over my head.
Thankfully, I was fortunate to have wonderful coworkers with me in the trenches.
Whether it was holding me when I cried over my first patient loss or breaking out into a dance-off in the staff room at 2 a.m., the nurses I worked with in my first job became like family. They were also the ones who attended my wedding and sent me baby gifts for my first child, long after I’d left their unit. And in the midst of our country’s current coronavirus crisis, I find myself thinking of my former coworkers and wondering if someone is helping them through the toughest time of their careers.
Since then, I’ve had a few jobs where I haven’t melded with my coworkers. But more often than not, my coworkers have been a steady source of professional support, friendship and inspiration. Often, coworkers know you better than some family members, since they may spend upward of 40 to 50 hours a week with you.
Now that my coworkers and I have been working remotely and operating our company with online meetings and more emails than I ever thought possible, I’m realizing just how much joy seeing my coworkers brings to my days. I miss them terribly and I can’t wait to get back to our normal coffee breaks and lunch trips.
Here are six reasons that coworkers make the best friends:
With coworkers, there’s never a shortage of cake, snacks and gifts.
Whether it’s a coworker’s birthday or a longtime colleague is headed off to a new job, there’s always cause for a celebration in the office staff room. Translation: Someone is bringing cake. Your fellow coworkers see how hard you work and know that there are special moments that are important to you. There’s nothing that says “I know your personality to a tee” like a pair of socks emblazoned with your dog’s face appearing on your desk for your birthday. And the coworkers who send you hilarious memes to cheer you up during social distancing are the friends you’ll keep for life.
Coworkers have seen you working in your pajamas, and they love you anyway.
These days, with social distancing and quarantine rules being a way of life, my Zoom calls with my coworkers have become a bright spot during a difficult time. Over time, I’ve developed tight-knit friendships that transcend time zones and computer screens. And, as such, my close coworkers often have found me coming to meetings sporting jammies and a cup of coffee. Our meetings wind up feeling like I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a good friend kibitzing about the day’s plans, rather than a stuffy board meeting. Seeing their faces during our quarantine has made dealing with this crisis feel manageable, even if it’s just for a little while during an editorial meeting.
No one understands the stresses of your job like your “work wife.”
No matter how many times you’ve tried venting to your partner about the stress of the workday, no one understands the stress and demands of your workplace like coworkers. They know just how bad Carl from Accounting’s tuna sandwich smells, and they also know what it’s like to be on the business end of the boss from hell’s email chain. Sometimes, even just a glance to a commiserating coworker across your cubicle is enough to calm your nerves. And to that coworker who always lets me “rant text” when I’m frustrated at work? Please, don’t ever leave me.
Coworkers can anticipate your moods, sometimes before you do.
Perhaps what I miss the most while working during a quarantine is the face-to-face contact I have with my coworkers. The longer you work with a group of people, the easier it becomes to understand what makes them tick. I miss being able to look at a coworker across a room and convey what I’m feeling with a simple raise of my eyebrow. And, in an office setting where coworkers are mutually respectful of the highs and lows that come with working as a team, more often than not, coworkers can sense when you are buckling under the stress of an upcoming project. And sure, sometimes coworkers bicker like siblings or tempers flare, but on the whole the coworkers you call friends are there for you through thick and thin.
Coworkers pitch in when the going gets tough.
I’ve always said that I get by with a little help from my friends — and never is that more true than in the workplace. The give-and-take collaboration that comes when working with coworkers can be energizing and fulfilling during long days at the office. And, sometimes, that give-and-take is that your coworker has a sanitary pad in her desk when you’ve unexpectedly gotten your period, or she saves you by emailing you the big presentation that you can’t seem to find anywhere on your laptop. These days, my coworkers have pitched in when the stress of being under quarantine has been too much. We’ve learned to virtually hug each other on the bad days and cover each other’s job responsibilities when things get rough. The best coworkers are the ones who have your back at all times, particularly during a global crisis.
Coworkers are sounding boards for professional decisions.
I’ve made some of my best professional decisions thanks to my coworkers. I’ve also made some dumb mistakes because I didn’t listen to the sage advice given to me in the staff lunchroom. My coworkers have been my cheerleaders, my reality checks, and my ego boosts when it has come to taking a leap of faith in my professional life. As much as I relish calling my bestie to catch up after a long day, there’s nothing that makes me happier than getting a text from a coworker saying, “Wanna join me for a cocktail after work tomorrow?” And, even though our office happy hours now are happening on Zoom, the wine tastes just as sweet while unwinding from a tough day with coworkers who understand.