5 fun ways to bond with your coworkers outside of work if you just started a new job

Starting a new job can be both exciting and pretty scary. On one hand, you know you work hard, you’re good at what you do, and you’re excited to show people what you can bring to the team. On the other hand, whether your coworkers will like you or not is something that’s pretty much out of your control.

Some jobs make it much easier to focus on the work alone, and bonding with coworkers becomes less of a priority. But as a 2016 study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review found, having a group of friends at work can be beneficial to both your physical and psychological health. Another 2017 study published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior found that being friends with your coworkers can also improve your job performance.

It makes sense. Having good relationships with the people you work with can make any job feel like less of a “job” or something that you have to go to.

So what’s the best way to bond with your coworkers when you just started a new job?

As Dr. Kat Cohen, career expert and CEO of IvyWise, told HelloGiggles, don’t limit yourself to the office.

“Making friends at work can be challenging for new hires, and sometimes the office is not the most ideal environment for connecting, Dr. Cohen said. “A great way to remedy this potential problem is to seek out creative ways to connect with coworkers outside of office hours.

Here are some fun ideas to help you get started:

1 Attend some company-wide outings

If you just started a new job, getting your coworkers to do something outside of work with you right away may be challenging. So your best move is to start at company-wide outings.

“Most corporations schedule some sort of employee-bonding activity from time to time,” Dr. Cohen said. It’s important for you as a new hire to take advantage of those opportunities. Approach each gathering with an “enthusiasm and eagerness” to connect.

More often than not, the people who actually go to these things like the opportunity to network and meet new people. So don’t be afraid to show up and strike up a conversation with someone. You never know who you’ll meet.

2 Participate in a workout class

Another way to bond with coworkers outside of work is to join a workout class. In an effort to increase employee health and wellness, some companies offer discounts to certain gyms and classes.

“Whether you choose to explore the office gym with a coworker or try out a spin class a colleague has been raving about, working out is an easy way to establish a bond outside of the office,” Dr. Cohen said.

If you work from home, Rachel Jay, a career expert for FlexJobs, suggested starting up a collective fitness challenge with other coworkers who work remotely.

3 Volunteer

A 2015 report on millennials in the workforce found that 63% of female employees and 45% of male employees say their company’s “cause work” influenced them to accept a job. The same report also found that 78% prefer to do volunteer work with their coworkers than by themselves.

Being passionate about the same cause as your colleagues will definitely give you something to bond over.

4 Join a book club

The best part about this is you don’t have to be in the same office to join a book club. “While this can be done after work, book clubs provide a great way for coworkers not located within the same building to get to know each other,” Jay said.

5 Go to happy hours

According to Jay, happy hours are potentially the most common form of after-work bonding. It’s not a brand new idea, but it can definitely get the job done. That’s because happy hours give you the opportunity to unwind and have conversations with the people you work with.

The truth is, you can do any number of things outside of work to bond with your coworkers. If you’re not big on sports or working out, maybe you can find a group of people who’d be into a game night. It really doesn’t matter what you do.

“Bonding with coworkers really comes down to getting to know them personally, rather than just professionally,” Jay said.

If you make it a point to get to know the people you work with, you may find yourself a group of work friends in no time.