Working Hard or Hardly Working

Last month, I wrote about how important it is to have friends at work. If you missed that post, and don’t feel like going back to check it out, let me sum it up: Very. But once we understand that, then what?

When I first started this blog, a few people mentioned their struggle with asking out a coworker. Taking the office friendship out of its natural habitat is tricky business.

Here are some tips I’ve gathered from my own experiences, and those of my friends:

1)    Start on a weekday. Weekends are precious, and people like to keep them free of workplace reminders. Until you’re a friend, not just a coworker, don’t infringe on the all-mighty Saturday.

2)    A few drinks helps. I know I’ll get flack for this, but the truth is that a glass of wine says “we’re not at work anymore.” It also helps part the looming clouds of professionalism. Loosens you up. This is not to say, obviously, that if you don’t drink you can’t have work friends outside of the office, or that your relationship will be based on alcohol. I’m just saying, throwing back a Miller Lite can help.

3) If there are a few of you that get along, plan a group outing. I’m lucky. I have four best work friends. And they’re not just co-workers I chat with. They’re, like, real-life BFF material. But it took us two years to get there. How did it start? With a group activity. We joined a fitness challenge and started taking Booty Beat classes together after work. Jealous? I know. A friend of mine told me her co-workers do a brunch outing every couple of months. Group activities lack the intensity of one-on-one time.

4) Text message. If you’re calling an officemate during off-hours, there’s a high likelihood your phone call will be screened. On a  Saturday night, the last thing a potential office BFF wants to do is to work, or talk about work, or think about work. If you text, “What are you up to? Want to meet up?” She’ll know you’re in the play hard stage.

5) Don’t talk shop. When you get together with a coworker, it’s natural that you’d discuss work. It’s the tie that binds you after all. But when you’re beyond Big Brother’s walls, try to avoid it if you can. At least keep it to a minimum. A little workplace gossip can be fun, but you’ll never build an independent relationship if you can’t get past office politics.

That’s all I got for now. What do you think? Anything I missed? Or that I got completely wrong?  Do you have a surefire way to transition from work-friend to life-friend?


Filed under BFFs and Work

17 responses to “Working Hard or Hardly Working

  1. AmyK

    My office is made up of two departments, and because we’re in a healthcare field, most of the employees are on the go all day. So we borrowed the “mandatory fun” concept from the military and we have a monthly Friday lunch or snacks (on the company dime, so YAY for not having to drag a crockpot to work!!!). The rule is that we hang out together instead of running back to our desks. This has been great for getting to know each other, aka finding non-work things to talk about.

    Also, my office mate is a BFF so it’s a little less weird/intimidating to bring a new girl into our group when we spot someone with BFF potential.

    • It’s so smart when offices do things to promote out-of-office friendships. It’s to their HUGE benefit that their employees are friends, after all.

  2. I’m pretty guarded about taking friendships beyond the workplace walls. That said, one of my besties and I worked together for a decade. And the only thing I might amend to your list is, sometimes it helps to have a workplace friend to discuss workplace issues. You don’t have to give the back-story or discuss the personalities involved to someone who isn’t there and doesn’t get it. You can just jump into the nitty gritty, maybe get someone else’s perspective and then, of course, save plenty of time for non-work stuff.

    • I totally agree that it’s nice to have someone who understands the office dynamics, and “gets” various people’s quirks, to vent to. That’s just one reason why office BFFs are invaluable. But I think when you want to elevate an office friend to a real-life one, you need to establish other points of interest rather than work. If not, what happens when you no longer work together? You’ll have nothing to talk about!

  3. I have more experience with trying to keep work friends as real friends after I have left a job. I’ve found that I have to give it time….meaning, it might take several months of erratic e-mails and texts to arrange a dinner. But once you hit that first or second outing, if you have made it that far, there is a pretty good chance this friendship is making the transition.

  4. I miss the workplace banter and the friendships since becoming a SAHM/writer. I think those relationships are important and I know it gave me great solace having some of those workplace friends when we all had a very bad boss. It made our environment a little more tolerable.

  5. Ana

    I agree with your tips, and I’d add mine—After a couple of weekday/after work dates, plan something and invite along the S.O.s(if applicable); since they are not (usually) part of the workplace environment, it takes the conversation & the mood instantly away from work & to a much more personal level.You might all become “couple friends” or at least have a frame of reference when relationship/family topics come up.

    Quite a few of my current good friends are from work, and a lot of our couple friends are from one of our current/former workplaces.

    • This is a great addition and makes perfect sense. The other halves just don’t want to talk about an office they know nothing about all day. Thanks!

  6. I agree – workplace friends are extremely important. I probably didn’t realize how much so until I left my job to stay home with my kids and then transitioned to writing from a home office. It’s one of the things I miss the most.

  7. Christina

    While office friendships are important to feeling connected and motivated about the job, one needs to tread very carefully in this area as some offices are like the television show, Survivor.

  8. I love what you’re doing here! I also love that you said that a glass of wine helps. It does! Sometimes, just a bit of relaxation makes all the difference in letting your guard down and allowing your true, snarky self to come through.

  9. I agree with your tips. Some office places are more conducive to friendships than others. I’ve worked in places where everyone just kind of comes in, does their thing, and leaves. So aside from the occasional lunch together during work hours, there is no socializing. In those cases, I tried to make it a priority to set up lunches with people to get out of the office for a bit. seemed more conducive to getting to know each other.

    Now I am back at my former employer where people tend to be younger and are still looking for friendships. So it’s pretty easy to make new friends, which is nice!

  10. Zach

    Great topic. I work in a place where we rotate jobs pretty often and your team can change pretty significantly one year from the next. I am always worried about what if my work BFF becomes my boss? or if I became my work BFF’s boss? how would you handle…it’s bound to get awkward. can the friendship still last, or should it be put on the back-burner?

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