5 Ways to Make Work Friends Remotely

By Alicia Geigel on January 11, 2022

Building workplace friendships while working in a physical setting can feel natural and easy to do. When working remotely, however, making friends can seem impossible due to the awkward and sometimes uncomfortable nature of Zoom calls and virtual work meetings. The shift toward working from home is being embraced by both big and small companies, as well as a majority of workers, but sometimes it can be a struggle to familiarize yourself with coworkers and make friends while working from home.

Are you working remotely? Looking for ways to make friends at work? Unsure of where to start or how to begin? These five tips will help you build friendships virtually while working from home!

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1. Do Your Part as a Colleague: If you want to make friends at work, it is important to do your part as a colleague and prove your worthiness as a work friend. What does this look like? This can show itself in a number of different ways depending on your job and work field, but it ultimately boils down to how well you perform at work. Responding to emails in a timely manner, completing tasks on time, engaging with coworkers for clarification on tasks, giving maximum effort toward group projects, etc. are all ways that you show up for not only your boss but your coworkers as well. When you show yourself as a reliable and dedicated worker, your colleagues will pick up on this and be more inclined to be friendly.

2. Seek Opportunities to Communicate: It goes without saying that remote work is vastly different than working in an office. One factor that is most affected by this shift is regular communication. In an office setting, there are always opportunities to bump into a coworker and chat about the work of the day, current news, weather, family life, etc. In remote work, however, these chances are greatly limited, which means that workplace communication relies on you putting yourself out there. Logging into Zoom sessions early to staying shortly after can help to spark natural conversation, which can lead to making friends!

3. Set Up a Virtual Lunch or Coffee Break: In a traditional work setting, there is always a lunch break of some sort, giving employees the opportunity to unwind from the earlier hours of work and grab a bite to eat. Working remotely typically doesn’t have this same opportunity, which can hinder communication and building those meaningful workplace relationships. To combat this, arrange a virtual lunch or coffee break with your coworkers. A blog post by Achurch Consulting suggests, “Set up a virtual coffee break, lunch break, or happy hour with them, but don’t ask for an hour, ask for 15-20 minutes maximum. They’re more likely to say “yes” to a shorter commitment.” During this break, you can talk about work, which can be an easy talking point since it is something you all share in common.

4. Do Something Nice: Nothing makes people more willing to start a friendship than when something nice is done for them. In your workplace environment, being nice doesn’t have to be complicated or a big show, instead it can be something small to show your colleagues you are thinking of them. For instance, on National Coffee Day, consider sending a coworker you’ve been working closely with an e-gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Email a group of colleagues a thank you note for their helpful collaboration during this work period. Art Markman of Fast Company notes, “By finding a way to bring a little sunshine to your colleagues, you’re also helping yourself to feel more connected to the people you work with. As long as social distancing continues to affect workplaces, that will be an important way for you to feel good about your job. “

5. Find Ways to Connect:  Networking and building relationships at work can be intimidating.  On the contrary, take into consideration that a mutual interest in the job is what brought you and your coworkers together, so your thought process is on the same page! Talking with coworkers through work meetings is great, but it is also limiting in ways. After the conclusion of a work meeting, find ways to connect in life, not work. What are their favorite quarantine tv shows to watch? What dinner are they making with food from their pantry? By asking these seemingly silly questions shows them you want to build on things outside of your work, that you don’t just see them as a coworker, but as a person. This is something that they will remember in the long run!

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Making friends at work is awkward in general, but when you work remotely, this awkwardness is taken to a whole new level. Though it may be difficult to navigate communication and virtual coffee breaks with coworkers, these simple tips will help you connect and make friends easily!

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