How to make friends at work even if you’re remote

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Do you remember your first day at school? For most people, this is quite an overwhelming experience. You find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings, eager to prove yourself and, perhaps most importantly, looking for new friends.

In your adult life, you might experience similar feelings on your first day at a new job. After all, the desire to forge meaningful connections with your peers is unlikely to diminish as you move from the playground to the office floor. With a friend or two by your side, the workplace becomes a much less lonely and traumatic place – not only will you have someone to spend your lunch break with, but an ally at work will serve as a helpful sounding board when you meet difficulties. time. It’s valuable to have someone you can shout to, cry to, ask for advice, or overcome challenges with.

Research shows that employees who have friends at work are happier, less stressed and more motivated. A study published by Gallup in 2018, for example, found that those who have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged in their work. In another survey, conducted in 2021, 21% of employees said they were more creative when working with friends.

Despite the obvious benefits, making friends at work is far from simple — you won’t gain popularity by sharing your morning snack or gifting a page from your new coloring book. There are the usual concerns, such as the need to stay professional or respect workplace hierarchies, but the recent shift to remote working has made it particularly difficult for workers to stumble upon genuine and meaningful friendships.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

6 ways to make friends at work

Whether you commute to the office daily or sit behind a computer screen at your kitchen table, here are six tips for making friends at work.

1. Organize social events

You’ll have a hard time making friends at work if interactions with your colleagues are limited to formal project meetings, weekly team meetings, or client presentations. But when you make the effort to attend and host regular social events with your co-workers, your relationships can quickly evolve into something more meaningful.

Activities can include team dinners, after-work happy hours, or team-building activities. When you’re at work, make an effort to invite people over for lunch or morning coffee. Small acts of kindness can also go a long way and help you get noticed in the workplace. For example, you can bring cupcakes for your team or volunteer to do the dreaded Monday morning coffee run.

If you work remotely for part or all of the time, it’s just as easy to schedule social events online, such as virtual team lunches or a weekly book club. As a remote worker, you won’t have the same opportunities for spontaneous interactions in the workplace, so it’s especially important to put social events on the calendar.

If you can, make an effort to visit the office semi-regularly, as this is a good opportunity to foster more meaningful relationships. You’ll chat with more people, meet your colleagues face-to-face, and have access to shared workspaces.

2. Join an Employee Resource Group (ERG)

An ERG is an employee-run voluntary society designed to connect and support a group of workers who share a particular characteristic, such as ethnicity, gender, race, or sexuality. Your organization may, for example, have an ERG for its LGBTQ+ community, one for Jewish employees, or one that serves women.

One of the main purposes of these groups is to address organization-wide issues, whether it is a lack of minority representation at management level or insufficient diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). They also serve as a safe space for marginalized employees to voice their concerns and share their grievances.

As a member of a GRE, you will have the opportunity to effect meaningful change within your organization, participate in event planning, meet people who share or understand your lived experience, and find mentors. . It’s a great way to meet lots of new people and get involved in something meaningful outside of your day job.

3. Join (or start) a special interest group

Workplace companies are not limited to GREs. Many organizations have a wide range of special interest groups designed to boost employee engagement and job satisfaction.

If none of your company’s existing communities appeal to you, there’s no reason you can’t start your own group, whether it’s comics, baking, or horticulture.

This may be the best way to attract a crowd of like-minded people who share your passions. Post a newsletter through your organization’s intranet or see if you can get a mention in a company newsletter to gauge interest. Once you’ve built up a little excitement, all you need to do is set up a regular date, whether online or in the office.

4. Volunteer for Charity

Paid time off for volunteering is increasingly becoming part of an employee’s overall compensation package, as volunteer programs have been proven to attract top talent, improve morale and drive engagement.

You may choose to participate in these initiatives primarily because you want to help your local community or because it gives you meaning. But volunteering at work is also a great way to meet more people within your organization and develop friendships.

What better way to forge meaningful and lasting relationships than when painting a mural, mentoring local school kids, or working at an animal shelter? Talk to your manager or do some research to find out what charitable work your organization is committed to and how you can get involved.

5. Schedule one-on-one interviews with your team members

As a new employee, it’s worth getting to know your colleagues on a one-to-one basis.

During the first few weeks or months in your new role, schedule one-on-one time with each of your teammates. These meetings can be a quick virtual catch-up on Zoom, an in-person coffee morning, or a lunch date. Use this time to introduce yourself and get to know your colleagues on a more intimate level – what are their interests, preferred work styles, hobbies and living arrangements?

You should also use this time to offer your help. Is there a project or task you could help your colleague with? Demonstrating your willingness to work collaboratively and support your team members will build trust and help develop meaningful friendships in the workplace.

Making social plans will come much more naturally once you get to know your team members a little better and spend time working closely with them. You’ll also feel more comfortable leaning on them when you need help in the workplace, whether it’s advice on how to handle a difficult colleague or help with a difficult task.

6. Attend internal networking events

Internal workplace events are a fantastic opportunity to meet people from across your organization, which means you can extend your friendship-seeking network much further.

Talk to your new teammates to learn more about the types of events your organization runs and which ones would be most useful or interesting to you. There may be educational talks, training events or regular staff parties. If you like social events, you might consider joining an event planning committee, which will keep you busy and introduce you to a lot more people.

Image Credit: Kate Kultsevych / Shutterstock.com

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