Mere months ago, you might have thought it was weird—and maybe even a little tragic—that one of my closest personal and professional allies is someone I have met in person just once, through work. And that meeting was during the Bush presidency.
But now that so many of us are working remotely, and virtual connections are the widely adopted substitute for face-to-face interactions, I would argue that my own long-distance work friendship is merely an idea ahead of its time.
Gallup research repeatedly demonstrates the powerful impact of having a best friend at work: According to its data, people who say they have one are happier, healthier, and seven times as likely to be engaged with their jobs. A work spouse, as they’re cheekily known, is the one person in whom you trust and confide above all others on professional matters. They’re your happy hour buddy (even if the drinks are on Zoom), but also the first person you contact when you get the news of a promotion, or when your meeting presentation goes south.
My own work wife lives in Chicago, and I live in Los Angeles. That one time we met in person was about 15 years ago, at a New York conference organized by the media company where we both then worked near the beginning of our respective careers. That was the only occasion we’ve been in the same room, but that hardly matters.