Given the amount of time you spend at work each week, the people you work with can become more than your colleagues — they can also become your friends. However, if you want to develop a real relationship with those you work with, you need to spend time with them outside the office.
Whether you’re already good friends with some of your colleagues, or you’re trying to get to know them better, here are 10 activities you can do outside of work.
1. Plan a picnic barbeque
Having a few coworkers over for a barbecue or going to a local park is one way to let your hair down and get to know them better. It’s also a perfect opportunity to meet their families. Some people are more relaxed outside the office, and getting to know each other on a personal level can help you work better together.
2. Go bowling as a company
Years ago I worked for a company that held bowling parties about twice a year. The company would shut down at noon on a Friday afternoon, and the entire office headed to the bowling alley for a few games and lunch on the company’s dime. Since the bowling event took place during work hours, just about everyone attended which gave us the chance to bond outside the office.
3. Hit the gym together
If you and a couple of your colleagues have similar health and fitness goals, become each other’s workout buddy and hit the gym together before or after work. You can also plan other activities together, such as walking on your lunch break or going for a hike after work.
4. Schedule play dates
It’s easier to establish a relationship with a colleague when you have something in common. If you’re both parents -that’s a good start. Get with a colleague and plan play dates with the kids. Your kids can widen out and socialize with other children their age, while you can enjoy adult conversation.
5. Go to a baseball game
If your colleagues don’t like bowling, talk to your boss about attending a minor or major baseball game as a company. Depending on the number attending, you might score discounted group tickets. A local team might have a game scheduled on a Friday afternoon. As a company event, everyone can work a half day, and then attend an early afternoon game together.
6. Join a baseball league
Not only can you attend a baseball game as a company, you can play as a company. Contact your local baseball association for information on joining as an amateur adult baseball league. If enough employees want to participate, your company might be able to form its own team and play against other companies or teams.
7. Participate in community events
You and your colleagues can also participate in community events. For example, there might be an opportunity to help feed the homeless or assist with a food drive, or you can sign up to run or walk a 5K and support a local organization.
8. Attend a wine or food festival
If you feel like going out with your colleagues, but you’re getting tired of the same restaurant and the same happy hour specials, switch it up and attend a food or wine festival after work.
9. Go to a free outdoor concert
Nobody says you have to spend money to have a good time with your coworkers. If everyone’s pinching their pennies, check online for local events like a free outdoor concert in the park. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and a cooler full of drinks, and enjoy an inexpensive evening after work.
10. Book a party boat cruise
Some companies have an end-of-the year office party or a company picnic in the summer or spring. Talk to your boss about jazzing up your ordinary office party and propose having an office function on a party boat cruise. You don’t have to rent the entire boat or an entire deck. Simply reserve enough tables to accommodate those who want to attend and their guests, and enjoy an evening of dancing, delicious food and good association with your workmates.
Establishing a good relationship with colleagues strengthens the team and promotes job satisfaction. So don’t settle for only knowing your coworkers on a professional level – get to know them on a personal level outside the office.