In school or university, having a barkada makes all the stress easier to manage. Having a group of friends (or even a single true friend) to relax with when the work is done, or to support you when times get tough, is crucial for any student. This particular sense of belonging is just as important once you get in the corporate world.
Of course, your friends from college will always have a special place in your life, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make real friends at work. More often than not, you and your college buddies will be traveling in different directions. Unless you all landed a job in the same company and the same department, it will be harder for them to relate with and help you with your work woes that only people on the inside would be aware of.
While the “real world” of work isn’t exactly just another school, the experience of entering a new (and your first!) work community isn’t unlike the experience of transferring to a new school. Almost everyone belongs to a certain group by the time you come in. During your first few months at work, you’ll be the new kid — the fresh meat — and the label doesn’t rub off until after a few months on the job.
Still, becoming friends with your first coworkers shouldn’t be that difficult. Here are some tips to get you started:
Work hours are for working
First of all, walking up to someone’s cubicle and “hanging out” whenever you want is a huge no-no. People have to work and get things done, and more importantly, so do you. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of light chitchat during work hours, but keep all extensive socializing during break and down times. Otherwise, you might end up being known as “that noisy coworker who can’t stop talking.” They are real and there’s always one.
Friend it up with your work buddy
Most companies partner new hires with a “buddy” within the team. This person is often in charge of personally welcoming you to the company, which includes orienting you about the office and the office culture and introducing you to everyone. Your buddy will probably be your first actual work friend, so why not invite him or her to lunch, or a quick coffee dash to Starbucks? Even if they were technically assigned to be your buddy, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming actual friends. Don’t worry, no commitment necessary.
Interests turn work friends into friends even-outside-of-work
Don’t limit your conversations with your teammates to internal chats and emails. Even if you’re the introverted type, join your team for lunch whenever you can. You’ll get to know your how teammates are outside of the office setting, and you may even discover what they’re into. Knowing their interests is one way to form a non-working relationship with your teammates.
For example, you could find out that someone in your team is also interested in yoga or the art scene, which means you now have someone to invite to the art exhibitions you love during the weekends, or a new yoga buddy to work out with after work. More friends means more fun (and more opportunities for growth and experience).
Still, keep it professional
Unlike in college where you could easily group with people your own age, you will have to mingle and socialize with people of different ages. Keep in mind that you’re no longer a student in your “second home,” but a professional in an working space that’s made to get things done.
You might find yourself enjoying the company of one of your colleagues too much. You start to laugh too loud with abandon, and you two play around the office like children. If that’s the case, you might also find yourself getting more dirty looks in exchange for one really fun work friend.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of laughs even while you work, but make sure to keep it professional. There’s a time and place for everything, and that includes expressing how comfortable you are with a work BFF.
Be supportive, and you’ll get the support back
This may be your first job. It may be your second, third, or even tenth. But the fact remains: you will eventually face a moment of struggle or frustration during the course of your employment. This is where your friends from work can come in. They are people who’ve been in the company longer than you and can dish out some wisdom. Or they can simply be people who will be there for you during your trying times. And when the time comes, make sure you provide the same to your teammates.
In short, just be a good friend to your co-workers. Your colleagues can be your work barkada, and you’ll find yourself happier in your job if you see yourself working among friends.