How to Navigate Working with Your BFF.

Photography: Paramount Pictures

Photography: Paramount Pictures

Written by Hayley Genovesi

If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d make so many lifelong friends working in the corporate world...I wouldn’t have believed you.

As we grow older and move through our different life stages, our interests and friendship circles naturally change. You meet people that end up sticking around for some of the best and worst times of your life, both personally and professionally.

Fast forward to today and my personal and professional networks are quite an eclectic mix of new and old pals. Amongst that mix are the work friends AKA the colleagues that become your lifeline in and out of the office.

Not familiar with a work friend? Here’s some of the perks:

You get to work alongside a wonderful human that shares your passions and has your back. You can push each other in ways that most formal work dynamics don’t allow (especially in that corporate environment) and have fun while doing so!

I’d like to introduce you to a couple of those women in my life:

First up is one of my best friends, my bridesmaid and my go-to for all work advice, Kylie Wallace.

We met five years ago volunteering at a charity in Richmond and we instantly hit it off, bonding over our shared vision and drive to change the world.

During our work lives together, we launched a global campaign called ‘Polished Man’, we ran 20+ events and raised much needed funds for a great cause.

Sure, we had some (now) laughable disagreements over issues from a new brand identity to plant positioning at an event, but I am happy to report that we came out the other side remaining great friends.

Our secret? The mutual respect we had for one another and our different management styles.

At the end of the day, Kylie was the boss and I respected her decision and believed in the vision.

Working alongside Kylie taught me the importance of remembering that your professional and personal relationships are completely different and that you need to treat them that way.

Nowadays, I work with one of my first ever “work wives”, Zoe Walsh (another Yes Queen).

When we first met, we were juniorrrrrr burgers at Channel Nine, packing goody bags for events and thinking we had made it in life (haha).

We now have a bit more responsibility and we lean on one another for support and expertise. We know our strengths and weaknesses and aren’t afraid to tell the other when they are out of line — and we ALWAYS give credit where credit’s due.

I’ll be the first to admit that not all of my working relationships with friends have thrived like they have with Kylie and Zoe, but I have picked up a trick or two over the years.

These tips may be simple, but I wish I’d known them when entering the workforce.

Keep it profesh’

Having a pre-existing personal relationship with someone that you work with can often blur the lines between what is and isn’t acceptable in a professional environment. Put simply: while at work, work comes first.

Learn to switch off

If you don’t switch off, then you end up being the person who is unhealthy obsessed with their job and you’re no fun to be around. It’s important to do your best to leave the office, at the office, especially when you’re hanging out with friends who don’t work with you.

Take a breather

Remember to have a friendship outside of work. Go on hikes, nail dates, the gym - whatever your vibe is outside the office. Make sure to do those activities together, otherwise work will consume you both.

Communicate constantly

Just because you’ve known each other for eons or were friends before this job, doesn’t mean you both can read minds and know what the other is thinking. So be honest, voice your concerns and never let small conflicts build up.

Support each other

You either actively support each other or you don’t — there’s no in between. If you’re not actively supporting each other your friendship won’t last long or stay as sweet as it is right now.

Don’t be a hater

If your bestie gets promoted and becomes more senior than you (or vice versa) you need to appreciate the fact that they are now your boss first and your friend second. There are new boundaries about what you can talk about and share during the 9-5. In other words, the office rules still apply to you.

Sarah Fritz