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Wondering how to make friends at work? Whether you just started a new job or are craving more connection in your current role, you’re not alone.
Human connection makes our lives more meaningful, and enjoyable. Having someone to talk to about non-work things can make the office more fun. Not to mention, having good social skills in the workplace can have a positive impact on your career.
In fact, one survey from Gallup showed people who have work friendships put in more effort on the job. Women who said they have a best friend at work were more than twice as likely to engaged than those who didn’t.
Clearly, learning how to make friends at work is important. It can also feel even harder when you aren't seeing people in person.
If you're starting a new job, it can be intimidating. You might be wondering if you’ll get along with your colleagues. You might feel like you don't have any shared experiences with anyone from the company. Maybe they’ve worked at your new company for years and have already developed friendships.
Or if you’ve been in your job for a while, suddenly trying to make friends with your coworkers can be tough. They may think you’re not interested in getting to know anyone just because you haven't been focused on it. When you’re hoping to make friends, overcoming these obstacles is necessary.
The good news is that you can learn how to befriend your colleagues. In the process, you may even find your new best friend. Or, at least your new best work friend. Let’s dive into why having friends at work is important and what steps you can take to develop warm relationships with your co-workers (and maybe even find your “besties”).
Why should you learn how to make friends at work?
To some people, a job is just a job. They don’t care about work friendships. These individuals are solely interested in showing up in the office or virtual space, getting their tasks done, and leaving as soon as they can.
This desire for focus and efficiency is understandable, especially if you have a lot of responsibilities outside of work. But being busy and productive doesn't mean you can't make work friends.
While there’s no harm in having a work-life balance, being too aloof to your colleagues can damage your well-being and even your career. You don’t have to join your coworkers for happy hour every day or see them on the weekend — a work friend can simply be anyone you enjoy interacting with at the office.
Here are 6 reasons to open up and learn how to make friends at work:
- Your morale will improve. Work relationships help you feel like part of the team. Your crew will support you through the ups and downs of your work and personal life, which can boost your job satisfaction. Plus, socializing at work has been linked to the ability to better manage work stress.
- You’ll be more productive. You’ll feel more committed to your team and your work when you know your colleagues. This will motivate you to work harder and do a good job. Ultimately, that can help your career growth.
- They can help you grow. Friends at work will look out for you and will be more inclined to help you with any work struggles. If they have more experience than you, you can ask them for career advice, and they might be great references for you in the future.
- You’ll communicate more effectively. When you have a rapport with someone, it’s easier to share feedback and ideas. This improved communication will help increase the productivity of your whole team.
- You'll have a more enjoyable work experience. On average, you spend eight hours or more at the office each day. That’s a big part of your life. That time can be more fun if you get along with your colleagues.
- Friends at work become friends for life. After spending so much time together, work friends get to know you very well. That doesn’t change after you leave a job. These people can stay in your life long after you’ve moved on. Besides gaining the benefit of friendship, these connections can help you network and get new jobs in the future.
11 ways to make friends at work
Making new friends can be intimidating. Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, you don’t want to come on too strong. However, you need to do your best to build these relationships. If you need extra support, consider using BetterUp. We can help you build your confidence so that you can flourish in the workplace.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help you make friends at work:
- Bring snacks. Have a killer cookie recipe? Show it off. Pick something up at your favorite pastry shop if baking isn't your style. Leave it in the break room with a note saying you’re happy to be part of the team (make sure to note any allergens, though!).
- Attend or plan work events. Depending on your company culture, you can suggest a happy hour, team building activity, or a group lunch to spend time together and connect.
- Go for a walk together. We spend too much time sitting at our desks. Go for a walk, stretch your legs, and invite a colleague to come with you.
- Pay your coworkers compliments. Once you get to know them, tell them why they’re awesome. It could be their sense of style, cooking, or something work-related. Complimenting them is a great way to bond.
- Lean into the small talk. Ask what they did over the weekend, where they’re going on vacation, and other basic questions. This will set the groundwork for deeper conversations later.
- Spend your breaks with them. If your work is solitary, you might not interact with people much in a day. Your breaks could be the perfect time to connect with your co-workers.
- Use shared spaces. Many workplaces have common areas for their staff. Bring a laptop and set up shop for a couple hours to open you up to new interactions or build on existing relationships.
- Personalize your desk or work area. Pictures and decorations add character to your workspace. Don’t be afraid to show off your personality. When co-workers come to see you, you might discover some common interests, or they’ll learn that you have kids, which is a great conversation topic. Remember to be authentic, and friendships will happen in time.
- Radiate positivity. A positive attitude will make you more fun to be around. It will also help you find other fun, upbeat people who can keep your spirits up.
- Learn names and use them often. This might seem small, but using a person’s name shows that you care about them. It will also make people recognize that you care about getting to know them.
- Take your time. Workplace friendships don’t form overnight. Remember that friendships can grow slowly and organically over time. Be patient.
Respecting professional boundaries
Your work friends have the potential to be lifelong friends. But, they don't have to be. Putting too much pressure on work friendships can squash them before they even get started. If they bloom into something bigger, let them. Until then, remember, boundaries.
It’s important to maintain professionalism in your relationships. Here are some things to keep in mind as you build connections at the office:
- Don’t pry. Small talk and casual questions are great for getting to know someone. But that might be all they’re willing to share. Respect their boundaries and don’t ask questions that would make them uncomfortable.
- Avoid oversharing. Sharing intimate details about your life can make people uncomfortable. Avoid doing this unless you’ve become close friends with that person.
- Steer clear of unprofessional topics. Politics, religion, crime, medical and financial issues — these are topics that can teeter into toxicity. Avoid talking about them, and avoid gossip at all costs. You don’t need to say negative things about a teammate. That will only harm morale and make it harder for you to make friends.
- Be mindful of power dynamics. It’s one thing to be chummy with a co-worker. It’s another to be too open with your boss or subordinates. Mismanaging these relationships can work against you and your career goals.
- Structure your time. If you spend a lot of time socializing, it can get in the way of productivity. Take advantage of your calendar app’s “do not disturb” function while you’re working.
Enjoy your work and your co-workers
Navigating a new work environment can be stressful. But making new friends can make the experience so much more exciting. Remember to be kind to yourself and others, take your time, and trust that the relationships will eventually come.
Now that you know how to make friends at work, you can find your work bestie. And if you’re struggling, BetterUp can help you on your journey. Together we can hone your communication skills, help you overcome shyness, and learn how to set appropriate boundaries.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC