I have two friends starting new jobs this week, and today I heard of another one who just scored an offer.
The first week in a new office is at once an exciting and terrifying thing. You’re the new kid in school. Sure, you’ll know everything about these people eventually—what they eat for lunch, which dentist they go to, what instrument they played in high school marching band—but for now you’re just trying to remember names. And, more importantly, get them to remember yours.
We spend approximately 40 hours a week with our coworkers. That’s a lot of time to feel lonely if you don’t connect to anyone in your office. In fact, research has found that when Americans are asked to choose between having a best friend at work and a 10% raise, friendship wins out easily.
I’ve made close friends in all the jobs I’ve held. But it took time. Upon arrival at each office I was so eager to establish friendships immediately that I most definitely was the awkward girl trying to weasel my way into social circles. As I write this, I’m cringing at the memory of attempting to befriend someone at my very first full-time job, and it was totally one of those trying too hard situations.
“Hey, so, um, watcha working on?”
And then I proceeded to tell her my whole life story because, you know, why not.
Not that she’d asked.
So my advice for my new worker bee friends is as follows:
First, make yourself visible. You want your new colleagues to remember you’re there, so they invite you to lunch and include you on a group project. In the office especially, people are so wrapped up in their own lives that out of sight really is out of mind.
Second, don’t insert yourself for no reason. Though you want to be visible, you don’t want to be intrusive. Jumping in others people’s conversations—“Hey guys whatcha talking about?” (not that you’d do that)—screams Andy Bernard.
Thirdly, do your job, do it well enough, and relax. As long as you’re not burning down the office or forcing anyone to stay late, you’ll make friends eventually. Taking the relationship out of the office takes time, but for now you just need an on-the-clock friend—someone you can recap Modern Family or your weekend with. She may not be a BFF (yet) but that relationship is equally as valuable.
Remember being the new guy at work? Any tricks for establishing workplace friendships? Anyone think the office and friendship shouldn’t mix?