20 Proven Ways to Make Friends at Work

Are you looking to build valuable relationships at the office? Here are our secrets for making friends at work.

Making friends at work

Having meaningful relationships in the workplace is more important than ever before and is often linked to job satisfaction.

Besides, if you don’t have a work bestie to support you when your boss jumps down your throat or when your work nemesis grates on your very last nerve, then why bother going to work at all?

Having a work friend can help relieve tension and make your entire day enjoyable. But if you’re struggling to make friends (we get it, it can be hard), then you’ll need a few pointers to help you along the way.

So, whether it’s your first day on the job or you’ve been there for a while, here’s how to make friends at work (and avoid sinking into a friendless rut).

The importance of having friends at work

It has been proven that work friendships can increase job satisfaction. According to a Gallup study, there is a “concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. For example, women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).”

Having someone you are excited to see in the workplace will make you more eager to go to work and also stay with the company that you are working for, making it less appealing to look elsewhere for employment. Overall, work friends can make your job more enjoyable and also create a more accommodating and welcoming work environment for you.

Tips for making friends at work

Now that you know why it’s important to have friends at work, all you need is to start forming connections with people at the office. Below, we offer some useful tips on how you can form meaningful relationships with your co-workers and start making friends.

1. Engage in small talk

Small talk can be awkward at the best of times, especially once you start a new job and you’re thrown into a cubicle next to someone you don’t know (but need to get to know) and can’t really escape. However, it’s an essential part of forming strong alliances in the office.

If it’s your first day, you should stick to work-related questions like “How long have you worked here?” and “What made you follow this career path?”. If, on the other hand, you’ve been there for a while, you can connect by discussing personal interests like travel or music.

2. Introduce yourself to colleagues you meet in communal areas

More often than not, we can go years without meeting the people sitting 50 feet away from our office – unless, of course, we happen to bump into them in a communal area. Although it can be awkward to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, it’s a great way to build rapport with people you wouldn’t normally talk to at work.

If you bump into colleagues that are not in your department in the staff kitchen or hallway, for example, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself or say ‘’hello’’. To make the conversation as natural as possible, you can ask them about their job role. You can then discuss further topics the next time you bump into them, and before you know it, you’ll be talking about your weekend plans and your yearly getaway.

3. Eat lunch in the office break room

Although it’s very tempting to eat lunch at your desk and avoid all interaction with the outside world, it’s much more beneficial to take a break and eat in the lunchroom. This not only gives you a chance to refocus and rest your brain, but it also gives you the opportunity to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level.

Lunchroom chat usually involves any topic (other than work) and is the perfect opportunity to bond with the people that you work with. Over time, lunchbreak friendships usually blossom into trusting relationships.

4. Suggest going out for lunch during your break

If you’ve hit it off with a colleague in the breakroom, why not ask if they would like to grab some lunch or coffee outside of the office? Remember: your lunch hour is a great opportunity to form relationships in the workplace. They are short enough so you don’t run out of things to say, but long enough to get to know people personally.

If they seem keen, then you’ve made yourself a work friend. If not, there’s no harm done! At least you tried to make a connection with someone at work!

5. Participate in team activities

Most organizations with a good company culture arrange at-work activities and out-of-work gatherings. These provide you with the perfect opportunity to meet people that you don’t directly work with every day and get to know them outside the office.

If it’s during working hours, then these activities are mostly compulsory. On the other hand, out-of-work gatherings aren’t obligatory, but they are important if you want to make work friends. Although it’s not essential to go to every meeting, it’s ideal to show your face every now and again.

6. Start an interest group

Some companies don’t place too much attention on group activities. So, if you happen to work at a company that doesn’t already have pre-established groups, why not create one yourself?

You can align your interests with others in the company and enjoy them together. For example, if you play five-a-side football, why not get members from your company involved and build a work team? Or, if you’re a bookworm, why not form a book club so you can discuss the latest hot novel with likeminded people?

7. Treat your coworkers to baked goods

A great way to anyone’s heart is through good food. So, if you have a special recipe up your sleeve, why not share it with the rest of your colleagues? They will appreciate the effort that went into your baking, and they will also thank you for your tasty treats!

Bringing in treats can also spark conversation with other home bakers – they may ask for your recipe and will be more inclined to discuss their specialties with you, too.

8. Use open body language

If your body language is giving off the wrong impression in the workplace, you might be hindering your office relationships. If you sit with your arms crossed and your headphones in your ears and you keep your head down, you’re essentially telling everyone that you should not be disturbed.

However, the more open you appear, the likelier it is for people to approach you and initiate conversation. And when you’re more approachable, managers will notice you more and, as a result, you’ll be able to advance faster than your closed off colleagues.

9. Be friendly and authentic

When trying to make friends in the office, it’s important not to be too pushy or inauthentic. If you say something for the sake of it, it will come across as fake and they will see right through you.

Instead, it’s important to stay true to yourself while remaining polite and friendly. And if you happen to disagree with something and you are asked for your opinion – say it! Don’t be shy to show your true personality, as people will like you for who you are.

10. Find areas of common struggle

One topic that workers are bound to bond over is a common struggle in the workplace. If you’re working collaboratively on a project and your coworker and yourself both face the same issues, you’re more likely to support each other and discuss possible solutions together.

When you’re both on the same side, it’s easier to connect with others and get the job done faster, which naturally forms a strong alliance between the both of you.

11. Consider adding them on social media

Social media can be a tricky topic for some workers – some are quite open and want to connect with their colleagues online, while others prefer to keep their two worlds apart. When it comes to social media, it’s best to use your own judgement, and if someone doesn’t accept, don’t feel disheartened.

If you do connect on social media, then great! You can connect beyond working hours and discover more about each other’s interests, and who knows? You could be tagging your new work bestie in funny memes in no time!

12. Bond with coworkers in a similar situation to you

It’s easier to make friendships with people that are in a similar situation to you, and usually, there will be someone in your workplace who started at a similar time (if not the same time) as you.

If you’re both newbies, you’ll be keen to form a friendship and may find that you share common interests. I’ve made some true friendships by starting a position at the same time as some of my colleagues so you can, too!

13. Avoid office gossip

While most people connect over a mutual like or dislike of someone, or something, in the workplace, this connection tends to fizzle out once one of them moves departments or a company altogether, proving that the friendship was purely based on gossip.

If you want to build trustworthy alliances, it’s best to avoid office gossip at all costs. And if you happen to be dragged into any office gossip, simply listen but don’t react – it can easily backfire if you decide to join in on the negativity!

14. Invite them to out-of-office activities

If you’ve formed a good connection with someone at work, invite them to hang out outside the office. Most often, people let loose and act more naturally when they’re not in a working environment. You could also extend the invite to your entire team and suggest happy hour on a Friday evening, encouraging the entire team to bond beyond work tasks.

15. Engage in conversations over communication channels

In a remote setting, it may be more difficult to connect with coworkers, which is why it’s so important to engage in non-related work conversations where possible. Share your personal experiences, memes, cooking recipes or whatever else it is that your coworkers are discussing.

Even though you may never actually meet face-to-face, forming online connections is just as important as in-office friendships. Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions and discover more about your colleagues – you may find that you actually have a lot in common.

16. Express praise

We often tend to like people more when they are nice to us, and this also holds truth in the workplace. You will generally be drawn to someone if they have given you praise or slightly boosted your ego. That said, it’s important to always be truthful, only give praise when you truly feel that it’s due – don’t just do it because you want to be liked!

It’s important to celebrate other people’s success as well as your own. A good example is when someone has given a good idea, but your manager has failed to recognize it - you could respond with something like: “As Andrew said, their idea ties into this and could be worth exploring.”

17. Organize a virtual happy hour

If you’re working as part of a remote team, you probably can’t arrange out-of-office activities. That, however, shouldn’t stop you from arranging out-of-work gatherings.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses turned their normal happy hours into virtual ones. Think of having a Friday celebratory drink from home, while still having meaningful discussions with your teammates. To make it less awkward – because let’s face it, sometimes virtual calls are – you could consider planning a quiz or something similar that you can all play online.

18. Do little acts of kindness

At the office, there’s usually one person who responsible for arranging a gift for someone’s birthday or an upcoming celebration. But when it comes to virtual teams, these acts of kindness tend to falter. However, they don’t have to! You can still show appreciation to others by arranging a gift delivery for a colleague’s birthday or whatever the occasion may be. It’s still important to offer personal touches where possible to let others know that you’re still thinking of them.

19. Use a coworking space

If you’re a remote worker or a freelancer, it may be difficult to form friendships with your virtual colleagues, so you could consider finding friends elsewhere – like a coworking space.

These are numerous places where people can rent a desk for the day to get that office vibe missing from their day-to-day routine. People who attend coworking spaces are more open to building relationships with others in the same type of environment. So, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to forming work friendships.

20. Don’t force it

If you’ve tried all the tips above and failed to connect with a single person in the workplace, you shouldn’t force it. It may be that you have completely different interests, which is entirely okay! If you’re able to see past this issue and enjoy your work, then you can remain cordial with your colleagues.

As you have seen, it’s not that difficult to make a connection with at least one person within your workplace. You just need to let your personality shine! Don’t try to force friendships upon colleagues that may be closed off to it.

Final thoughts

Having a friend at work can make a bad job good and a good job great! I personally still keep in contact with colleagues from 10 years ago – some even flew across the country to celebrate my wedding with me! Thanks to the bond we formed as colleagues, I know that we will remain friends no matter where we are in the world.

So, it’s time to take the leap and start forming your own friendships at work, too!

Have you ever struggled with making friends in the workplace? Let us know how you overcame this in the comments section below.

 

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 18 February 2019.