Ask for a Tour Of the Office
Connect With Other Newbies
Some offices have a really cold environment, and it's even more difficult to get to know people when no one seems willing to go out of their way. In one office I worked, everyone stayed in their offices with their doors shut all day, then banded together in a tight group for lunches. After lunch, they went right back to their office and shut the door again.
It made it extremely hard to break the ice, but I was lucky that there was another new person who started around the same time I did. We were able to chat at the printer one day, and after that, we went to lunch. Our friendship grew from there.
Pay attention to the environment, and if one or two people seem as lost as you are, chances are they're new, too. Make the first move and invite them to lunch.
Observe the Culture
Every company has its own unique culture, and the better you're able to fit in with the nuances of your office, the more easily you'll make friends. Things to observe are:
- What time do people leave and arrive each day?
- What's the dress code like?
- What are the lunch habits? Do they stay in the office and eat in the cafeteria? Or always run out to a local restaurant?
- Are there some after-work traditions like going to the bar for a drink on Fridays, or having breakfast together each Wednesday?
- Do people greet each other in the morning? Or tend to get right to work?
The better you're able to get the gist of how the office runs, the more you can try to get connected and fit in.
Ask a Coworker to Meet for Coffee Before WorkIf getting together for lunch is difficult, ask a coworker to meet you for coffee some morning. Offer to pick up the tab, of course, and let the person know that you'd like to get to know them better. Coffee dates are casual and quick, which is perfect for talking with a new coworker. Also, it's inexpensive and doesn't cut out a ton of time from their day. You can drink your java and then head to work, but the time you'll spend chatting will go a long way to forging an eventual friendship.
Watch How Much Time You Log at Your DeskIt can be all too easy to spend all day at your desk when you start at a new job, but blending in with other coworkers can make your job easier and more enjoyable. So put some effort into taking a break just to walk over to the water cooler and smile and say hi to the others every so often. If invited out for lunch or drinks, go! Don't cancel in favor of spending more time at your desk. You'd be surprised at how much more efficiently you can catch on to things by observing your coworkers and finding out about their role in the company. If they like you, they'll help you, and this will speed up your learning curve.
Keep an Open Mind About the People in the Office
I once worked in an office where someone came right up to me the first day and "warned" me about someone else. Later, the person she warned me about approached me with advice to avoid her. Each apparently did not like the other, and wanted to make certain that any new people would follow their example of gossip and badmouthing. Awkward.
If you're approached like this by one or more people, pay attention, but still keep an open mind. There are a number of reasons why one person might not like another, and it doesn't mean that you won't be able to develop a friendship. It's always a good idea to be cautious in the beginning while still getting to know everyone. After a while, you'll instinctively know who you can hang out with and trust.