For many reasons, I basically idolize BuzzFeed.
Before I started working at my current company, though, one thing about BuzzFeed Video intrigued me. It seemed like their staff is really close. Like, they’re all best friends. They hang out… all the time. Watch any of their Snapchat stories on a Friday night. I can basically guarantee that they’re singing karaoke at a dive bar or something.
I remember thinking, How are you guys so close? Aren’t you sick of each other after working together all week? I don’t understand.
Now, I can say that I’m lucky enough to have a group just like this – a Work Family. And it is absolutely magical. So, I figured that I should share some info on forming one of these amazing support systems at the office.
“I already have friends,” you are probably thinking. “Why do I need more?”
Well, first of all, making new friends is never a bad thing.
And maybe most obviously, we spend the majority of our waking hours at the office. I am a strong believer that we should enjoy what we do – and who we do it with. This is probably because I’m still kind of new to the work force and am more than a little freaked out that I still have like 100,000 work hours until retirement. (Sorry to share that terrifying number. Let’s move on.)
Another amazing benefit to forming a work family, is the support and guidance that they provide. They understand what you do, they know your colleagues. They likely work under the same pressure and the same managers. So, when you are having a rough day, they just get it. When you think your world is crashing down, they provide perspective. When you’re having an amazing day, they become your go-to group for a celebration. They understand what you are going through, and it creates a unique and wonderful bond.
On a related note, each employee brings unique experience, education and talent to the table. When you have a support system at the office, you gain an amazing resource. More importantly, you can look to them for inspiration and motivation. One member of my work family is currently in Europe, as she won a national competition that sent her to what is basically the “Oscars” of our industry. I am filled with pride for her talent and skill. Being around people like that is just so wonderful.
You’re totally sold on this idea, right? So, let’s dive into the “how.” How are you going to build this tight-knit group?
This absolutely depends on your company. Its size, culture, average age. Your age, compared to the age of those around you. The company type plays a big role, as well. Making friends at a law firm in New York City is very different than making friends at a creative start-up shop in San Francisco. I would imagine.
But, there are some universal tips that I can share.
If you’re having trouble getting to the BFF level, get to know your colleagues on a professional level first. In an office setting, it’s often most comfortable to start with this type of relationship. Chat about industry news, your big presentation, last year’s crazy holiday party. Escalate to chatting about weekend plans. (Before you know it, you’ll be part of those plans!)
It’s also important to read the atmosphere of your office. Is it casual or serious? Social or quiet? More often than not, you should try not to make too much of a ripple. If the office is low-key and people don’t socialize as much as you’d like, maybe start with an invitation to grab coffee with some colleagues. Don’t show up to your cubicle with a six-pack of, like, Corona Light and yell, “It’s 5:00 somewhere!”
Overall, be patient. Building relationships takes time. Building a healthy work friendship takes even more time. It is worth the wait, I promise!