How to Make Friends at Work
Did you know that the average person spends roughly 90,000 hours at work, equating to approximately one-third of a lifetime? Considering how much time you spend at work, nurturing relationships with your colleagues is important.
Research shows that making friends at work positively impacts productivity and increases job satisfaction. A recent Gallup poll reveals that people with a best friend at work are twice as likely to be engaged in their job and produce higher-quality work. Additional research reveals that having work friendships boosts morale and provides a robust support system during stressful times. In turn, this improves the working environment, increases the quality of work, and helps to boost the company’s bottom line.
Yet making friends is sometimes easier said than done. Let’s explore a few practical tips on how to make friends in the work environment.
Challenges in making friends at work
Before we dive into practical tips to build relationships at work, there are a few barriers to acknowledge.
The following challenges make it difficult to develop work relationships and make new friends, but they can be overcome with little effort.
Many introverts are shy and struggle to put themselves out there. Be true to yourself, recognize similar interests with colleagues, and use common ground to start conversations. Give yourself time, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
If you’re a manager or leader of a group with shy employees, incorporate engaging questions in the next meeting to get them to open up!
Starting a new job
Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating. Make an effort to introduce yourself and remember the names of your colleagues. Ask questions to understand their personality better and try working in common areas to make yourself accessible.
Asking work-related questions also helps to break the ice and understand people's roles throughout the workday. If the conversation goes well, ask about lunch spots and invite colleagues to join you.
Discerning if someone is your friend
The lines between friendship and colleagues can be blurry. Signs that you’ve made a real friend at work include:
- You spend time together outside of the workplace
- You talk about non-work matters
- You confide in one another about your personal life
- You support one another’s career goals without bitterness
Connecting with virtual colleagues can be difficult, especially when there’s no physical break room to share a coffee. Instead, close friends who work together can connect over the telephone and online platforms.
Tips for building friendships at work
What do you do when you have no friends at work? The following tips will help you move past small talk and build strong relationships with your team members.
Keep a positive attitude
Positive people are easier to be around, and a positive attitude contributes to a healthy environment. A positive attitude facilitates productive conversation, inspires a positive mindset, and encourages colleagues to build a friendship.
A few simple ways to practice positivity at work include:
- Celebrate small successes (both your own and your colleagues' successes)
- Acknowledge hard work
- Use positive language when talking about the company
- Be kind and empathetic
- Initiate fun activities such as happy hour drinks
- Make a consistent effort to avoid complaining
Focus on body language
Body language cues communicate that you’re open to making new friends. Instead of closing yourself off, a few adjustments can make your work life more social. For example:
- Keep an open posture and hold your head up and shoulders back
- Maintain eye contact when having a conversation
- Fully face the person that you’re talking to
- Offer a genuine smile when appropriate
- Maintain engagement by nodding in a discussion (but not too much)
Connect with colleagues after-hours
Take your friendship with your colleagues to the next level and spend time with someone after work hours. Perhaps you realize that you connect with someone while on a work retreat or when a water cooler conversation continues organically; connecting with a colleague after hours helps to deepen a relationship.
If you’re uncertain about the level of friendship, it’s worth suggesting that the company host social work events outside of office hours where you can test the water safely. For example, suggest team-building activities or after-work drinks at a brewery.
If organizing a social event is too big of a step, then begin by exchanging phone numbers or following your colleague on social media.
Use available resources to make friends
Since the pandemic, more people have been working remotely, and brands have adopted remote work policies. In this modern working world, businesses are emphasizing a positive company culture.
Consider the resources that have been incorporated to facilitate remote work synergy and use them to make friends. For example, get involved in your company’s virtual employee engagement initiatives, such as wellness programs or giving “kudos” to a job well done. If the company has an online communication platform with social channels, add to the conversation and offer insight into your personality.
Recognize the signs
Now that you’ve put yourself out there, what are some signs that someone might be interested in becoming friends?
The following behavior suggests that someone likes you and is open to forming a friendship:
- Find reasons to talk to you
- Body language is open and friendly
- Make contact outside of work
- Ask about your personal life
- Engage with social media posts
- Identify shared interests
- Helps out without expecting anything in return
Make the most of workplace friendships
Employees expect more than a mundane job that pays the bills and insists on a healthy work environment. Encouraging friendships in the workplace is an effective way to meet this need, increase productivity and boost engagement.
Creating a positive company culture allows work friendships to develop and flourish. Friendships manifest in different ways, and while some colleagues socialize on their terms, other relationships must be nurtured through communication tools and social work events.
Roots plugin is built for a new way of working and designed to facilitate a strong company culture, increase team collaboration, and empower relationships. Roots Connections, in particular, helps team members connect and build strong bonds, positively impacting business performance.