With the return to the office on the horizon, many of us may be meeting coworkers in person for the first time. Whether you started a new job virtually, or were introduced to new colleagues over a Teams call, the pandemic has definitely presented some unique challenges when it comes to building a thriving social life at work. And let’s be honest, after more than a year of sweatpants and working from home, our social skills may be a little rusty.
At FAULHABER, we recently completed our yearly employee survey – the Gallup Q12 Survey – which covers 12 key elements to measure engagement and satisfaction within the workplace. Participants are asked to respond to a series of statements, one of which is: “I have a best friend at work”. Research has shown that those who strongly agree with this statement are more successful and engaged in the workplace.
While the value of forging meaningful relationships at work is undeniable, it can be difficult to know where to start when making friends, especially when we’ve been isolated for so long. To help you find your work bestie, we’ve compiled a list of tips for connecting with your coworkers when you return to the office:
Talk the (small) talk
While small talk can be an uncomfortable process at first, it is an essential part of forging friendships at work. If it’s your first day at the office, it may be intimidating to strike up a conversation with a new face, but it’s likely that your colleagues are just as eager to form relationships and introduce themselves. Small talk is a great way to learn if you share common interests, passions, and goals and to bond over them.
Participate in team-building activities
Most companies will host culture activities to help employees get to know each other and encourage team building. Actively participate and use this time for what it’s intended for – strengthening relationships with your coworkers, and having fun at the same time. If your company doesn’t currently host these kinds of events, consider starting a committee and leading the initiative.
Eat lunch away from your desk
While it may be tempting to work through lunch, take a break and eat in the lunchroom. It’s a great opportunity to meet coworkers you don’t get to interact with often, and a relaxed setting to get to know them and talk about things outside of work. Bonus points if you bring in treats to share!
Engage with your coworkers
A simple greeting like “Good morning!” when entering the office can go a long way. Make an effort to actively engage with your coworkers – ask questions and take a genuine interest in what they have to say. Offering a helping hand can also show you’re a great team player and that you’re open and friendly.
Authenticity and honesty is key when it comes to making friends. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality or share details about your own life. Ultimately, people will be drawn to you for being yourself and owning it. And if it isn’t a natural fit, that’s totally okay too.
While a return to regular life may seem overwhelming post-pandemic, having friends at work to navigate through it all together will certainly make things easier. Having a strong support system at the workplace is critical to job satisfaction, performance, and for our mental health. Use these tips to break the ice and you’ll be calling your coworkers your best friends in no time.