Nikki Grey
Updated Jan 14, 2016 @ 11:18 am

After finishing formal education, work is where we spend most of our time. Having friends who work at the same company is great is because it makes working more fun. Not to mention these friends can understand so much of our day-to-day lives that others might not. Together, we can commiserate about challenges and celebrate successes, and what’s not to love about that? Except when it’s your first week at a new gig, making office friends can seem like the hardest thing in the world. Particularly if you keep tripping over the copier.

Some coworkers will be willing to start a friendship right away, but others aren’t as eager to make friends with people from work. They may be in relationships that take up most of their time, or they may already have plenty of friends. Or maybe when they get off work, they’d rather curl up on the couch and watch Netflix than take the time and energy to build a friendship. That’s OK! You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you work with. But you probably do want to hang out with someone at work. So even if you’re crazy awkward, here’s how to do it.

Small talk is your friend!

Lots of talk at the office centers around work — which is good, that’s why you’re there — but if you’re trying become friends with a coworker, you might want to branch out a bit. Ask questions, when it’s an appropriate time to do so. If they mention their dog, ask about them. Maybe you have a dog too! Compare dog photos. Find something that you have in common with them to chat about that isn’t just spreadsheets.

Go along to lunch

When the opportunity arises, say ‘yes’ to getting that lunch out. It’s not that big a commitment, and it’ll give you a chance to talk to someone who isn’t hunched over their laptop or stressing out over a major project. It’s tempting to skip on it, particularly if you just want to go home and unwind after a long day, but showing that you’re game to do stuff goes a long way. If no one initiates, just mention it to your nearest desk buddy. Even a trip to the vending machine to let off steam will help.

Plan or host a happy hour for coworkers

During the workday, even while at lunch, people still have their minds on the to-do list, to some extent. If you want to make friends with your coworkers, try inviting them to happy hour. Go during the week, so coworkers who don’t want to give up their weekends or who have other stuff going on can still attend. Remember not to drink too much because —friends or not — you still have to work with these people and don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of them. Be respectful of coworkers who don’t drink alcohol by not pressuring them to do so, and invite them along anyway, because they can drink a nonalcoholic beverage while there. And if you or your coworkers aren’t 21 yet (or if you just don’t want to go to a bar), try something else after work, like getting a group together to get coffee or pizza.

After socializing at work, during lunch and happy hour or something of the like, many of your coworkers will be more open to becoming more than just “work friends” and doing other things with you like going to the movies, shopping, clubbing or whatever. I think most of us can agree that the workday goes by much faster when we’re surrounded by people we enjoy being around, so putting in the extra effort is worth it. Plus it can lead to some wonderful and lasting friendships.

(Image via Universal Studios)