Our Best Tips For Dealing With Your Workplace BFF Moving On To A New Job

We spend a lot of our waking hours at work. A lot. It's estimated that the average person will spend 90,000 hours of their life working, per Business Insider. That's roughly 10 whole years. If that weren't unsettling enough, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2022 report, 60% of people aren't engaged in their work and 19% report being straight-up miserable. It's certainly a depressing state of affairs. In fact, there appears to be only one thing that can make work bearable or, in some cases, downright fun: a workplace BFF.

"One of the most important things to have in the workplace is a close relationship," CEO of Comparably, a workplace culture monitoring site, Jason Nazar tells CNBC Make It. "So very often the largest source of stress for people is a boss, co-worker, or the day-to-day pressures of work. The fact that more than half of employees we surveyed have a best friend at work is a good sign. Having someone there to go through the good times and bad experiences with you is invaluable."

As much as having a workplace BFF is amazing for us on a professional and personal level, when they move on to a new job, it can leave a hole not just in the office, but in our life. Trying to navigate a workplace without your BFF is difficult, and doubly so if you really don't like your job. But fear not, because you can get through this.

Acknowledge your feelings

Loss is loss, and all loss needs to be grieved. Our culture tends to associate the grieving process with just the death of a loved one, but whenever something is taken away from us, it creates a hole in our life. You simply can't turn a blind eye to that hole, thinking you can jump over it because eventually you'll fall down it. It needs to be acknowledged. 

"Pretending something didn't impact you or denying yourself from grieving a loss because it wasn't a matter of life and death is a disservice to your psyche," clinical psychologist Rosy Saenz-Sierzega, Ph.D. told MeQuilibrim. "We must feel to heal."

It doesn't matter if you'll still see your work bestie after they move on to a new job. The point is that you two forged a friendship in an environment that doesn't always bring out the best in people. You had someone on whom you could count and with whom you could commiserate. In the workplace, this is a very important alliance to have and you had it. So don't ignore your feelings. Feel them and feel them deeply. Give yourself grace and the space and time to grieve their leaving.

Be genuinely happy for them

Humans can hold more than one emotion at once. In this case, as you mourn the loss of your workplace BFF, you should also be able to be happy for them and their new journey. It takes a lot of guts to leave a job and move on to a new office or career. Some people are content to show up to a job that doesn't interest or challenge them, while others won't settle for such a thing. You should be proud that your BFF falls into the latter category.

"Instead of focusing on our lack of success, we can see our friend's achievement as inspirational," psychologist Dr. Kerry Schofield, Ph.D. told NBC. "If he or she did it, so can we — our time will come! We can be proactive and evaluate how and why our friend was able to be successful, and see if there are ways we can apply this knowledge to improve our own lives." It's important to always remember that the successes of those who are important to us don't mean we have failed in some way. Instead, their successes can be our successes too. Sharing in your workplace BFF's success feels far better than feeling left behind or, even worse, jealous.

Reflect on your career goals

With your office bestie gone, now is the time to think about your own career and what might be next for you. Let's be honest: when we have a workplace BFF, it's easy to accept job-related things that we normally wouldn't. But now that they're gone and there's no one there to cushion all the aspects that you don't like about your job or work environment, your focus should be on what you can do for yourself and your professional future. In other words, get motivated.

"When we have this mindset towards ourselves, it is difficult for us to stay motivated because we get stuck in a negative cycle of thought," licensed marriage and family therapist Hanna Stensby told Real Simple. "Focusing on your identity and your self-perception with a lens of self-compassion is a great way to stay motivated. Write it down and display the list of 'pros' for why you're working towards your goal somewhere you'll see them every day." Being able to reassess your career on the heels of your BFF's departure won't just inspire you to get and stay motivated, but will help you realize what you're capable of too. FYI: You're capable of a lot.

Expand your workplace friend circle

Although it may be daunting at first, if not emotionally upsetting to connect with other coworkers after your BFF leaves, it's a must. As the data shows, having relationships in the office is absolutely necessary for our mental and emotional health. You're already well aware of this from your own personal experience, so start making the rounds and putting out feelers to see who might be good company for you.

"Having like-minded friends at work isn't just helpful from a coping standpoint for the stress of being a minority in a work situation," therapist and relationship expert Miriam Kirmayer told Refinery 29. "Those friends are there to remind us to put ourselves out there. Women — especially women of color — who feel more socially connected with one another tend to feel more comfortable asserting themselves."

For all you know, there could be someone in the office who's looking for a workplace bestie too. People need people to get through the workday just as much as they need each other to get through life. While it's okay to admit no one will live up to your original office BFF, that doesn't mean that you should close off yourself to other potential friendships.

Take your friendship to IRL level

The most important tip for dealing with your workplace BFF moving on to a new job? Making them your IRL friend, of course! If your friendship up until this point was solely in-office, now's the time to take the next step and make this thing legit. 

"As awkward as it may sound, shifting an office friendship to being outside of the office is a bit like dating," life coach Desiree Wiercyski told Bustle. "So, if you've worked together for a bit and feel like you've gotten a sense of who the person is, then it's time to ask them to go to happy hour, coffee, or to even try out an exercise class after work ... If you want to create a real friendship with someone, the relationship has to be about more than work and surface level stuff."

If you think about your office best friend leaving in the context that you're not actually losing them but gaining a friend, their moving on might be easier to handle. While you may not have the office in common anymore, you'll always have your office memories and lots of time and years ahead to cultivate other parts of your friendship.