Years ago I was accidentally volunteered as an ’employee champion’ for my team. I went along anyway to see where it would go.

I sat fascinated as our HR counterpart explained that the number one thing that drives employee satisfaction and staff retention, something many times more powerful than any other factor, was “having a best friend at work”.

I’ve spent many years thinking about this. My initial reaction was there is little a company can do to drive this, but the more I learn, the more I appreciate that while you certainly can’t artificially generate this, you can influence it a lot in your recruitment processes, office environments, communication tools, office norms and work cultures. Get these wrong and these friendships never stand a chance.

Anyway, that’s a long introduction to my ‘new’ old friend.

We talk all the time, we share ideas and thoughts. She is an amazing enthusiastic force around the office who I greatly admire. She is down to earth, intelligent and motivating in so many ways. And as far as my ‘best friend’ category goes, she is definitely that; and the difference it makes in my work day is amazing.

But the odd thing, despite daily interaction for 12 months, she’s only a “new” friend. I say that because this is only the 3rd or 4th time we have met face to face.

You see, we work on opposite sides of the world. Different cultures, time zones and regions.

I think it’s an amazing credit to just how much technology and communication tools have shrunk the world down in recent years. I love the thought that one of the people who brightens my days can do it effortlessly from thousands of miles away.

Thanks “SH”.