A London investment firm has been incapacitated by an outbreak of friendship. Simeon Partners, an alternative asset management company, alerted the authorities as soon as the infection was detected.
“We didn’t hesitate,” explains Partner Jim Bonham, “we know how dangerous workplace friendship can be, so immediately took steps to combat further spread.”
It soon became clear that the root of the problem was amongst new members of the Grad scheme. Despite trying to interact exclusively as detached professionals, trainees Peter Finch and Nicholas Ince accidentally got to know one another beyond the usual workplace pleasantries. Given its infectious nature, friendship quickly spread, and soon a number of the graduates began to like each other as people, not merely assessing each other as productivity centers.
HBR spoke with Peter: “I’m not sure how it started, but stilted small talk became meaningful conversation, and we began to talk about things we actually cared about. When we realized it was happening it was already too late.”
It wasn’t long before multiple members of Simeon were going out for non-compulsory after-work drinks, and even seeing each other at the weekend. Friends and family were quick to express their concern, with Nick’s girlfriend particularly perturbed. “It just seems weird to me, choosing to spend time with your colleagues when you don’t absolutely have to,” she explained.
Simon Hodgson, Managing Partner at Simeon, says that the main issue is that due protocol was not followed. “In the event of a friendship in the workplace, our HR policy requires those involved to communicate it, which did not happen in this case. We were left with no choice”. For the time being, the relevant parties have been quarantined in an attempt to suppress further spread, but Snapchat communication is proving problematic, with the Grads communicating extensively via a range of Emojis.
“Who knows,” wonders Simon, “they may actually form a meaningful lifelong friendship, after meeting as colleagues. I hope not for their sake though, what an embarrassing story to tell the grandkids.”