When your ‘work spouse’ leaves, it can be tough – Post Bulletin

Have you ever heard of the term “work wife (or husband)”? Sounds more dramatic than it is, but in general, it defines a person you would describe as your favorite, or best friend, at work. Those people are one’s sounding board to the world of work, the one you turn to first when a new project is assigned, when you have questions or when you need to strategize. For each of us, he or she is the one person who makes the minutes go more quickly, the one person you can laugh with, and one person you can gripe to without being called dramatic or the creator of issues.

So, when that person decides to leave the company, it can be devastating and something that one needs to work through and cope with.

Relationships at work are a key to workplace satisfaction, and they can be very beneficial. Just this week, a client went through losing her “work wife” by way of their partnership dissolving and one of them moving to a new career. Observing the emotional distress she went through before being able to pick up the pieces and carry on with new focus was sad.


The week of the announcement was a whirlwind. It began with the announcement to the team, which created quite a bit of surprise. This “break up” was very unexpected. The gamut of emotions ranged from surprise to sadness, to anger and then to acceptance in a short number of days.

After letting the team in on the news, a livestream was scheduled to let the general public know. Much like a virtual event, this took some planning as there was video and sound bytes to create, and a few select friends were given the log in, so they could jump on the call to say their good-byes. This portion of the announcement created a lot of tears.

Today, after a week of almost complete silence, the client and I finally met virtually. She shared the vision of where the company will move toward as well as what my role would be. It was exciting to be included on the strategy and planning for her future.

If you are facing the loss of a close friend at work, there are a few things to remember. First and foremost, maintaining friendships is not your main focus. Although it feels like a betrayal, it does not mean your satisfaction at work is going to plummet, nor does it mean you should start looking for a new job. In fact, now might be the perfect time to focus more on work and getting to know some of the people you did not take time with before.

Career expert Sally-Anne Blanshard says having a work spouse is a classic glass-half-full situation.

“You shouldn’t be attached to people, you should be attached to the job,” Blanshard says. “Having a work wife is an emotional connection. Look at (when they leave) as an opportunity for you to reflect on what’s important in your work environment. Are you the type of person that can do a job anywhere, regardless of the people you work with, or are you someone who thrives on having good relationships with your colleagues?”

Does this mean you cannot or should not have someone you are close with at work? No, by all means. But, it does mean when this person leaves the company, your work should not spiral downward so that your productivity to the company goes south.

Just wish her well in her new job, promise to get together, and refocus on your own job.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to



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When your ‘work spouse’ leaves, it can be tough – Post Bulletin


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