• Having strong positive social bonds at work is good for your wellbeing and career
  • Connect with your coworkers by being authentic, positive, helpful and happy
  • Having a kick-ass work family makes office life and work more fun
The office is a strange place. Different people can have wildly different experiences.

Some people love being at work. They have some of their closest bonds with work people, and actually have fun at work.

You might have even heard some crazy people calling their colleagues their work family. Madness!

Others find being at work more of a chore than anything else, and would never choose to spend any more time than necessary at work or with their coworkers. They want to get the fuck outta there as soon as the clock strikes 5pm.

But considering we spend up to a third of our lives at work, it is worth making sure that we have a good time while we’re there.

Other than making your job awesomer, something that can help with this is having good social bonds with your coworkers.

For some people, this comes naturally. After just a few days at a new job, they’re already in with the cool crowd.

But for those of us who are more introverted, it can be difficult to break in new social circles even after months or years of being around the same people every working day.

However, being an introvert shouldn’t doom you to suffer and be isolated.

It’s possible to overcome shyness and fear to start connecting with colleagues, and maybe even turning some of them into real friends.

Why Social Bonds At Work Matter

You might argue that you really don’t need to make friends at work, and that’s not what work is for. But honestly, building social bonds at work is extremely important for your wellbeing and your career.

You spend eight hours a day for five days a week at work, sometimes even more. That’s a shitload of your time. And, if you can’t make that time more fun, then life is gonna be a real fucking drag.

However, when you make that time enjoyable, it brings a lot of benefits, some of which you may not have thought about.

This short 2-minute video spells it out - quite literally.

VIDEO: Making Friends At Work
LENGTH: 1:45
Summary points:
  • Having friends at work boosts your productivity, happiness and health
  • Work friends expand your sense of belonging and togetherness
  • Having work friends is cool - so get with it!

It’s Good For Your Health

As shown in Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, humans need love, acceptance and belonging to thrive, and this is no different in the workplace.

Just like our need for food and water doesn’t disappear because we’re in a work environment, neither does our need for connections and relationships.

In fact, studies have shown that, for social interactions to have a real positive effect on our wellbeing, we need at least six hours of social time every day. Seeing as a huge chunk of the day is spent at work, some of that six hour quota is going to have to be met with your colleagues.

Building close bonds with coworkers is great because it gives you a support network at work, a place where you’re likely to get stressed out from time to time.

This survey of 3,000 American employees by Olivet Nazarene University found that people with friends at work feel comfortable confiding in them about work conflicts, health problems, their love life and, in some cases, financial woes.

Often when we face these challenges, we have to put on a brave face at work and get on with things. So having one or two people we can spend breaks with and get things off our chest can be a huge relief.

It’s one of the main reasons why you need work BFFs in your life.

Having this emotional support and having a work BFF to joke around with can make the workday go faster and generally make us feel happier at work.

This study from the University of Tel Aviv even found that those with good social support at work live longer!

It’s Good For Your Career

Having a friendly work crew can also boost your career and mood. It’s no secret that being in a good mood translates to pretty much everything else in life going well.

Studies have also shown a specific link between a good work social life and positive markers in overall productivity and engagement at work.

This study from Rutgers University showed that good social bonds at work improved job performance. Even without looking at fancy academic studies, we know this stuff is true.

When you look at the people at work who seem to be sailing in their careers, they tend to also be well-known and well-liked across the company.

The rising stars and top dogs are inevitably also the regulars at social events and office happy hours. We live in a world that rewards extroverts and being social at work definitely pays off.

In addition to building your personal brand, having a good social circle at work also means that, on a more practical level, you have a support network to turn to for help.

Whether that help is in the form of advice for interview prep or support when shit hits the fan, it can make a huge difference compared to not having anyone to rely on.

So, all in all, taking the time to better bond with colleagues is a good decision - for both your health and your long-term career.

But not all of us have a natural knack for making friends. Luckily, there are a lot of small changes you can make today to start bonding with your coworkers.

How To Connect With Your Colleagues

Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been with the company for years, it’s always good to make an effort to bond with your coworkers. It doesn’t have to involve any big acts or anything contrived. Even just a simple smile can go a long way.

This video gives some pointers on how you can build better positive relationships with your colleagues and basically avoid being an annoying coworker.

VIDEO: How to Build Relationships at Work
YOUTUBE: Communication Coach Alex Lyon
LENGTH: 7:14
Summary points:
  • Take a genuine interest in people
  • Be low maintenance and easy to get along with
  • Be generous with your encouragement
In addition to these long-term tips, there are also some small acts you can adopt which will promote you from a good coworker to an actual cool person that your colleagues will want to get to know.

1. Remember People’s Names

This may seem obvious but it’s an important one. We’ve all been in that situation where you don’t know a colleagues name but you’ve had too many conversations with them to ask again without offending them!

Try to avoid this situation by repeating people’s names to them after they introduce themselves. This makes you more likely to remember it.

Most companies also have an online directory with photos so you can do some detective work where needed.

Finally, use people’s names when you greet them. This helps to make them feel loved, building positive feelings between you.

2. Be Positive

The office can be a stressful place. So people who can bring humor, lightness and positivity provide welcome relief. Try to keep a positive outlook on things and help others do the same.

This includes catching yourself from being a Debbie Downer and turning it around. Even if something crappy is happening, like layoffs or a stressful project, it’s important not to start giving off neggy vibes.

In fact, in these situations, it’s even more important to give people a boost of positivity in whatever way you can. Try this simple little trick to triggering happiness and you may never have another bad day at work.

Whether it’s a simple smile, offering to make a cup of tea or avoiding the gossip trap, positivity tends to spread out around you and make others feel safe.

3. Be Authentic

When building bonds with people, you want them to like you for who you are. Pretending to be someone else is tiring and, eventually, you’ll be called out on it.

It is tempting to play a role to fit in. This could be anything from joining in on the baseball chat when you actually can’t stand sports to vaping at work when you don’t even smoke.
But remember, it’s always better to be the real, original you rather than a cheap knock off of someone else.

Be honest and open at all times. Yes, this might mean that you don’t get along with every single person but that’s totally okay because it will also mean that you build closer bonds with the people who are your people.

4. Open Up

As well as being generally authentic and open, it’s a good idea to share some of your personal life with your colleagues rather than trying to be strictly professional at all times.

More and more, we are learning the importance of bringing our whole selves to work, rather than trying to only be our ‘work selves’.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should share anything overly private or be unprofessional. There is such a thing as “TMI”. But talking about your family, interests, fav foods and hobbies is a good way to let people in.

5. Find Things In Common

Being open about some aspects of your personal life also makes it easier to identify things you have in common with others.

Finding commonalities helps us to connect with our colleagues and gives us something to talk about. It could be that you went to the same school, you both have a teenage daughter or you’re both raging super-fans of the same football team.

Whatever it is, it becomes something that brings you together and can be a regular talking point as you build your relationship.

6. Listen, Really Listen

Opening up is important but actually listening to others is probably the most important.

Most of us think about what we’re gonna say when others are talking, and so we often miss a lot of what they are saying both verbally and non-verbally.

As much as possible, try engaging in some active listening.

Be fully present and focused on what the other person is saying, allowing them to complete their flow of speech before responding - don’t interrupt them.

People can really feel the difference when you listen to them for real, and it will be appreciated.

7. Be Social At Lunch

Eating lunch alone at your desk sucks. It’s even worse if you have to work through lunch. Not only does it mean you’re not giving yourself a proper break, it also steals away valuable friend-making time.

Instead of being a lunchtime loner, eat your lunch in the communal areas, and make an effort to sit with colleagues when you do, even better if it’s with new folks each time.

The same goes for taking breaks throughout the day. Doing so is critical for managing work stress.

So, whenever you bump into anyone in the breakroom, say hi and chat them up a bit while you’re making some cofftea. You’ll meet new people or get to know existing friends better.

As you start to build bonds with people, it can be nice to even plan lunchtime activities, like taking a walk or eating lunch out together. This provides the opportunity to spend time together and also to...

8. Bond Outside Of Work

As soon as you’re outside of the office, invisible walls come down. People feel more relaxed and are likely to be a little more open.

This is why it’s great to hang out with coworkers over lunch, at social events and even office happy hours.

Of course, just because you’re outside of work, doesn’t mean you should throw all professional etiquette out the window. Remember, you have a personal brand to maintain. So, be sure to follow the proper happy hour etiquette when hanging out at the bar with work buddies.

Generally, being out of the office, connecting with coworkers and having a good time leads to better relationships with your colleagues, so say YES to the next work social event you get invited to.

9. Be Helpful

Helping others is a sure way to win friends and it makes you feel good - bonus!

We’re not saying you should go around doing other people’s jobs for them or adding extra piles to your own workload. You do have to set boundaries at work.

But be aware of what’s going on around you and be open to help when it’s needed.

Whether it’s offering to go out and get a birthday card for the team to sign or helping out during a team crisis, helping others shows your kind nature and positions you as a team player, someone that your colleagues can rely on.

10. Celebrate Others

Getting praise from people feels good. When others recognize our hard work, it makes it all worth it.

Shouting out your colleagues for their successes will make them feel good and give them a reminder to celebrate themselves.

You don’t have to do anything dramatic. Simply sending a ‘congrats!’ email or stopping by someone’s desk to tell them you heard the good news will instantly put the both of you in good moods and could trigger more positivity.

Time To Build A Work Family

Making new friends at work can be daunting, whether you’ve already been at a job for a while or if you’re a newbie.

You often feel awkward or think that people won’t like you - but that’s all just the inner asshole in your head trying to bring you down.

Remember, everyone wants to be liked and everyone wants to make friends. So there’s a much higher likelihood of a positive response to your approaches than a negative one.

Besides, work is tough. Why wouldn’t you take the chance to make work a more fun place to be?

We could all do with having a work family and all it takes to build one is being intentional about it. Sure, it might feel a little scary at first, but those fears will all be a distant memory when your working days are filled with laughter, support and good vibes.

Feel Better,

more on cubicle life