12 Ways to Create Work Friendships with Colleagues in 2021

Home » Resources » Work FriendshipsUpdated: September 15, 2021

You found our list of ways to create work friendships.

Ways to create work friendships are means of building relationships with coworkers. For example joining clubs, bringing food, and arranging social events. These tactics are useful both for remote workers and in person at the office.

The techniques on this list are a form of team bonding ideas and are trust building activities.

This article includes tips on:

  • making friends with coworkers
  • how to make friends at work when you are shy
  • ways to make friends at a new job
  • ways to connect with coworkers

Here we go!

List of ways to create work friendships

From hanging around the water cooler to taking coffee breaks to praising peers, here is a list of tips for making friends at work and getting along well with colleagues.

1. Attend Team Outings

Attending team outings is one of the quickest ways to make friends at a new job.

Organizations and HR departments often schedule regular team building activities such as team dinners, happy hours, and games to increase camaraderie among staff.Often, the company covers the expense of these outings, meaning you only need to invest your time and energy.

The event’s central activity gives you topics to discuss with coworkers you do not know well. The shared experience gives you a way to continue the conversation back at the office, laying the basis for work friendships. Not to mention, the more of these gatherings you attend, the more familiar other coworkers will be with you, and the more likely these teammates will reach out to strike up conversations.

Check out this list of team building activities.

2. Arrange Social Events

Regardless of whether or not your office hosts regular team building events, you can take the initiative to get coworkers together. For example, round up folks for a happy hour, check out a new restaurant together during lunch break, organize a TV watching party, or meet up at a local festival. You can invite colleagues you know would be interested and encourage these folks to spread the word and bring along other teammates. If your office has a company bulletin board or common space, then you can also hang a memo in these areas.

Since these are out-of-pocket events, you should try to keep costs low so that many team members are able to attend. However, some employers may offer to chip in and cover some of the expense upon noticing significant staff interest.

You can also arrange social events online by setting up Zoom calls to stream movies, host a writing workshop, or drink coffee and chat together.

Here are some ideas for virtual events.

3. Join Clubs

Companies often have clubs, be it professional meetups such as employee resource groups or committees, or social clubs such as running groups or gaming gatherings. Remote organizations can also have clubs in the form of Slack channels, forums, or recurring Zoom meetings.

These groups can be a great way to meet new colleagues with similar interests. Often, these gatherings provide opportunities to socialize with teammates in other departments. Plus, you can learn new skills and tips in the process.

If your company does not have any clubs, then you can take the initiative to start your own group.

4. Hang Around the Water Cooler

The office water cooler is one of the main areas for socialization. Friendships form faster when you continually put yourself in situations where bonding can happen, such as break rooms and other common spaces. Of course, you do not want to hang out in these areas to the extent that your work suffers or you gain a reputation for slacking off. However, you can make a point to swing by the vending machines or lounge on your way back from the bathroom or copy room, and join in conversation. If you work in a virtual environment, then check out the employee chats or message boards a couple of times a day, and engage with teammates’ posts, even if only via emoji or GIF.

Here is a guide to doing virtual water coolers in remote offices.

5. Say Hello or Good Morning

Saying hello or good morning is one of the best pieces of advice on how to make friends at work when you’re shy. A smile, wave, or quick hello does not take much social courage. In time, you can work up to small talk, and eventually, real conversations. However, beginning by saying hello or good morning, or by responding to other coworkers’ greetings is a good way to grow more familiar with teammates.

6. Ask Questions

People often enjoy talking about themselves. Asking personal questions is a hack for making fast friendships in the office. You can use a random question generator to come up with talking points, or can choose prompts from this list of get to know you questions. You can also ask follow up questions during the course of conversations, which will show you are listening and are interested in the discussion. Colleagues are likely to talk so you can prove yourself to be a good listener and communicator.

7. Share Interesting News

Sharing interesting news is one way to connect with coworkers. You can pass along articles on new scientific discoveries, fat bear naming contests, or crazy coincidences, for instance. You can also share personal news such as graduate school acceptances, buying a house, or your child nabbing a solo at the dance recital. You can announce these tidbits at the beginning or end of meetings or post the stories to a company wide chat thread. However, try to keep the conversation light and steer away from controversial topics like political discourse or crime.

Pro tip: Sharing “Florida Man” headlines is usually good for a laugh or two.

8. Bring Food

As the saying goes, “a way to a team’s heart is through the stomach.” Communal meals are one of the easiest ways to bring teams together. Feeding your coworkers is one way to win teammates’ favor. Plus, grazing in the break room offers team members a chance to chat and bond.

Putting out a bowl of candy on your desk is one of the best hacks to get coworkers to stop and chat. You can also bring baked goodies, pick up a dozen donuts on your way into the office, or order a pizza. Arranging a potluck is a low-cost way to dine with coworkers, and tends to drum up excitement among the staff.

If working on a remote team, then you can mail teammates goodies like home baked cookies or snack packs, or send credit to food delivery services like Goldbelly or Grubhub.

Treating teammates to a meal or snack helps to foster gratitude, which in turn encourages team members to return the favor or, at least, interact with you more regularly.

Here are some online cooking classes to improve your culinary skills.

9. Take Coffee Breaks

Grabbing coffee with a coworker is one of the easiest ways to connect with coworkers. Many professionals already take coffee breaks as part of the workday routine, and are happy to have company during this ritual. When in the office, you can invite a teammate along to a cafe, or can offer to grab a cup for a colleague. If working remotely, then you can schedule a quick Zoom meeting to have some face to face time with a teammate while you both enjoy your daily morning or afternoon caffeine boost.

Many offices encourage employees to take coffee breaks together, however if your company does not have a formal or informal coffee break program, then you can also reach out to colleagues with your own invitations to chat. This activity can be a way to welcome new hires, get to know teammates in other departments, or catch up with a coworker.

Here is a guide to virtual coffee breaks.

10. Offer Help

Offering help is one of the fastest means of making friends with coworkers. Doing favors for colleagues can rack up major goodwill and show your team members that you are generous and dependable. Regardless of whether or not teammates take you up on the offer, coworkers will be grateful for your willingness to lend a hand.

These acts could be as simple as offering to drop off mail on the way to run an errand, holding a door open, proofreading an email, or finding the answer to a question. If your schedule allows, then you can also offer to pitch in on larger projects. Offering assistance when you find yourself with downtime is a good habit.

Pro tip: Asking “how can I help?” is typically more effective and impactful than asking, “can I do anything to help?”

11. Support Coworkers’ Outside of Work Endeavors

Coworkers often share facets of their outside lives with the office. Supporting outside of work endeavors is one way to get into colleagues’ good graces. For instance, donating to charity fundraisers, purchasing children’s girl scout cookies, attending standup shows or concerts, visiting a coworker’s spouse’s business, or sending cards for birthdays, weddings, or graduations. The gesture can be as simple as talking the teammate up to the rest of the office, for instance, “Have you seen the table Ronaldo built by hand? It’s so beautiful, ask him to show it to you!” or “Lucille is a wonderful singer, check out her YouTube page!”

Taking an appropriate interest in coworker’s outside of work proves that you value peers as human beings beyond the scope of the office, and paves the way for friendships to blossom.

12. Praise Peers

Employee recognition is an important part of job satisfaction, and can also be a way to get closer to coworkers. Praising peers by giving genuine compliments and shoutouts is a great way to build relationships with colleagues. You can act as a megaphone to amplify coworkers’ awesomeness. Simply mention your coworkers’ help or accomplishments during a meeting or a conversation with another colleague. Or, give your teammate kudos in a public forum, such as posting a thank you or shout out in a group chat or channel or via employee engagement platforms.

The key to this exercise is to share sincere praise. Fluffed up flattery can make folks wary, however heartfelt sentiments are likely to break barriers and open the door to healthy working relationships.

Pro tip: Launch a peer-to-peer shoutout space where coworkers can thank and compliment each other.

Conclusion

The “I’m here to work, not make friends” mentality is a silly mindset because there is no reason that both results are not possible. In fact, professional friendships make work more pleasant and satisfying, and often boost productivity and performance. Having strong bonds with coworkers can also make the job easier, since teammates are usually more willing to cooperate with and help friends than strangers.

Making friends as an adult can seem difficult, and entering a new workplace can be intimidating. However, there are small steps you can take to lay the foundation for office friendships. Follow this simple advice, and you and your peers will be buddies in no time.

Next, check out this guide to the benefits of team building and list of activities for relationship building.

FAQ: Work friendships

Here are answers to common questions about work friendships.

What are some good ways to make work friendships?

Some good ways to make work friendships include attending team outings, saying hello or good morning, asking questions, and offering assistance.

Why are work friendships important?

Work friendships are important because social ties can be a major motivator in the workplace. Social ties are a powerful driver of productivity and performance. Nobody wants to disappoint a friend, and coworkers who get along with peers tend to push themselves harder to support the team. Plus, professional friendships make work more pleasant, boost feelings of belonging, and increase job satisfaction. In fact, statistics show that employees with work friends are more likely to remain in a role for a longer period of time.

How do you get along with work colleagues?

Spending time together is the key to getting along with work colleagues. The more team building events you attend together, and the more casual conversations you have, the quicker rapport will grow and the more work friendships will bloom.

What are signs of good work friendships?

Signs of good work friendships include frequent and friendly conversation, willingness to help each other, respectful honesty, and team hangouts.

What do you do when work friendships go bad?

Like any other relationships, work friendships are subject to fallout. Conflicts with work friends can be tricky because the office often does not allow feuding friends the luxury of space and time to sort out the situation. Office friends may still need to work together and often cannot avoid each other without the work suffering. Fighting work friends need to find a way to be civil to each other.

If your work friendship sours, first try to find the root of the conflict. Be sure to own up to your mistakes and apologize when necessary. If you are unsure of the cause of your work friend’s upset, then feel free to tell your coworker you would like to talk. Framing the conversation as “I value our relationship and want to fix the issue,” can be more effective than a confrontational approach, and can encourage your work friend to be less defensive.

When discussing the issue, give your work friend a chance to talk openly, listen, and be patient. Work to uncover the cause of the issue and steer the conversation towards finding a solution.

Trust can take a long time to regain, so be aware that there may not be an immediate fix. In some cases, the friendship may not be salvageable, in which case it may be more productive to focus on building a civil working relationship.

Losing a work friend is no fun, yet is not the end of the world. The fallout can make working together awkward, however, the tension is typically temporary. As long as you learn and grow from the experience and do not repeat the same mistakes, then there is no need to dwell on losing one friendship. You will have many opportunities throughout your career to build relationships, and should not get lost in regret.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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