In Ask An Editor, Her Campus Editors answer readers’ questions about how to be a human. This month, Her Campus’s Deputy Editor, Iman Hariri-Kia, hosts office hours about summer jobs, kicking off with work friends.
How can I make friends at work when working remotely?
Office Party Of One
Dear Office Party Of One,
First off, hey! My name’s Iman (rhymes with mom, so trips to the grocery store are super annoying), and I’m Her Campus’s new Deputy Editor. I’m also, dare I say, extra equipped to answer this question since I just started this new role remotely, just like you.
Beginning a job in isolation can be challenging for a myriad of reasons: having to onboard through screen-sharing, being unable to go to IT when you’ve locked yourself out of your email, your first day ‘fit missing out on all the clout it deserves. But making connections with your new coworkers is perhaps one of the most complex parts. When you’re meeting people on Zoom and chatting on Slack all day, you miss out on those key bonding opportunities that are so fleeting but consequential. You know, like locking eyes to commiserate with a colleague when you realize that you both have zero clue what your manager is talking about or complimenting someone from a different department’s shoes in the shared kitchen. These smaller encounters usually amass over time, piecing together an office friendship. How do you do that organically, from behind a screen?
At my old job, I used to be a major proponent of making friends in the bathroom. I absolutely lived for those awkward conversations that led to friendships between flushes. There’s nothing I adored more than walking in on a stranger flossing in silence or in desperate need of a tampon. I famously once ran out of toilet paper and texted a new coworker about my dilemma. She delivered a fresh roll by sliding it beneath the stall; we’ve been friends ever since. And while I’m still navigating the ins and outs of virtually fabricating those touchstone moments, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up for simulating these kinds of connections — so your work friends can one day become your IRL friends, too.
Make Work Friends By Working Their DMs
Once you and your coworkers have exchanged social handles, ditch the FaceTime coffee banter and head straight for their DMs. If you see a TikTok about work culture that you think would resonate, take a chance and send it their way, accompanied by a few skull emojis. Did Olivia Rodrigo’s new song make you cry real tears of joy? Shoot your shot and message it to them, asking if they listened. Think about it: The worst they can do is say no. If they don’t reply? Accept that they’re drawing a boundary. Remember: Even DM chit-chat should be consensual.
Friends At Work Are Real People, Too
So, you’ve swapped socials, you’re following each other on Instagram, but you’re not quite up to DMing about Ben Affleck’s escapades? I got you. The 2021 equivalent of “So, what did you do last weekend?” is “Not to be creepy, but I saw what you did last weekend.” Now that we’re all working remotely, but live streaming our lives on the internet, consider making a connection by commenting on something you already know makes them tick. Bonding over how cute their new quarantine foster puppy is or asking where they bought the merch they were wearing in their Story can be a casual way to find common ground.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Work Friends For Help
When all else fails, one tried, and true method of bonding with your peers is reaching out and asking for their advice or assistance. Having trouble getting your boss to respond to your Gchats? Can’t, for the life of you, understand how to use your company’s analytics software? Here’s the tea: Admitting you need help won’t make you look weak. In fact, being vulnerable around your coworkers can be a gesture of strength. Your cohorts will most likely see themselves in your struggle, empathize with what it’s like to be new, and take the time to walk you through it. Then, in a few months, you’ll be able to do the same for someone else. Isn’t that kind of beautiful?
Of course, if it takes you days, weeks, or even months to start to connect with your coworkers, don’t be too hard on yourself. Making friends as an adult is notoriously weird, and doing it remotely adds an extra layer of pressure. But here’s something I wish someone had told me sooner: Your new adult life is so much more than your job. If you’re ever feeling lonely, focus on fostering your relationships with your chosen family, friends, and above all else, yourself. And you can always turn to your friendly Her Campus Editor (lol hi) when you need someone to exchange memes with. We can be the new kids at work together! I’m only a DM away.