Feeling Lonely At Work? Follow These Tips To Connect With Your Coworkers

Working can be a source of stress and anxiety for many, and having friends at the office to lean on can be very helpful when it comes to dealing with the daily issues that can arise at the workplace. However, for some, one big issue is feeling isolated and lonely at work. Having even small interactions with your colleagues can offer support, boost your happiness levels, improve productivity, and offer you a better feeling of work-life balance. Many like to feel a sense of community at their jobs, but when you feel lonely the days can feel harder to get through.


There are a number of reasons why you may feel lonely at work. Perhaps you experience social anxiety that makes it tough for you to interact with others, you work remotely, you feel like you don't fit in with your coworkers, you struggle to open up about your personal life, or your workplace simply doesn't focus on building relationships and community among their employees.

If you're struggling with workplace loneliness, there are some things you can do to attempt to connect with your coworkers in order to build friendly relationships and create a better work environment for yourself.

Being kind goes a long way

When it comes to building connections at the workplace, a kind gesture can go a long way. Finding small ways to interact can be the best stepping stone to feeling less lonely at work. "You don't have to have a friend to feel less lonely," Michelle Lim, Ph.D., tells Self. "For someone who's incredibly lonely but nervous about meeting people, for example, it can be about smiling or nodding at someone as opposed to saying hello. There's no one-size-fits-all way to connect."


However, if you are ready to chat, something as simple as learning your coworkers' names and using their names to say hello to them in passing can make a big difference in the way they see you. This shows them that you took the time to learn their name and remember them, which will likely have them do the same for you and lead to more natural and friendly conversations as time goes on. An easy good morning greeting or a goodbye at the end of the day will leave them feeling like you're considerate and kind toward them.

You can also treat your colleagues to some homemade (or store-bought) goodies to help combat the workweek blues by bringing in some muffins, bagels, sweets, or even treating them to coffee.


Take interest in your coworkers' lives

If you want to build friendly connections in the workplace to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation, you'll have to allow your colleagues to open up to you. This means you'll need to take an interest in their lives outside of work as well as at the office. Asking them questions about their families and hobbies will allow you to find out more about your coworkers. You might even find out that you have a lot in common with some of your workplace buddies. Asking your colleagues about their lives outside of work is also a good way to start a conversation that will roll easily for you since they'll be talking about themselves.


Even if you don't share the same interests personally, you'll still have one big thing in common with your coworkers and that's your career. "By definition, a workplace should be filled with a lot of people who are quite similar to you. They've got a similar career and they go to the same place to work. Those two elements — similarity and proximity — mean that friendship should be possible," says Rachel Morrison, Ph.D., a professor of interpersonal relationships (via Self).

Inquiring about your colleagues' lives may allow them to feel more at ease around you, and open the door for future conversations surrounding already-established topics.

Find ways to open up to your colleagues

Combating loneliness at the workplace can be difficult at times. In addition to learning about your coworkers, you'll likely also be asked to open up about yourself. This can be challenging for some. However, offering little bits of info about your life is a great way for others to see you as more than the person who works alongside them. Finding small ways to sneak in details about yourself may not be as hard as you think.


Try joining a group conversation or team setting and then slipping in a fact about your recent vacation, a funny anecdote about your kids or pets, a story about your favorite TV show, or simply an interesting tidbit that relates to a work project or the company. Not only will you seem relatable to the group, but the group setting will allow you to take a backseat in the conversation and not put so much pressure on yourself.

Asking your coworkers if they need help with tasks around the office can also be a way to get the ball rolling. They'll see that you're considerate, kind, and a team player. This could mean cleaning up the breakroom after a birthday celebration, offering to bring in a treat for an office potluck, or simply lending another pair of eyes to a work project.


Pitch ideas to boost community within your workplace

If you work alongside your colleagues in a common area, you might find that it can be beneficial for combating loneliness and finding ways to connect. Perhaps there is an opportunity to work in a room that allows conversations to flow in order for coworkers to run ideas by each other and share facts about their work. If not, bringing up the isolating nature of the office to a manager or supervisor may be worth a shot. Perhaps there is a way to resolve these issues that will leave more room for office interactions and give a boost to creativity in the process. A mentorship program may also be a great way to encourage community and productivity at the office.


If this simply isn't an option, there are other ways to connect to your coworkers at the office. Try sharing coffee with them during a break or organizing lunch together. In addition, some workplaces have events outside of work for their employees. Perhaps a company picnic or employee appreciation celebration. If so, attending these events can be helpful to build connections and feel less isolated while you're at the office.

Finding other ways to connect

Loneliness at work can impact many, especially those who work remotely. So, if you find yourself feeling alone while working from home, it may be time to implement a change. Suggesting weekly virtual meetings with cameras on may help combat the feelings of isolation. The meetings can be work-related or simply kick off the week with stories about the weekend, the weather, news topics, or common interests. Creating an online group or chat for you and your colleagues may also prove to be beneficial. You can share stories, news, photos of your family, pets, and more as a virtual water cooler experience.


If you have coworkers that live nearby, planning a meetup event may also be a great way to make connections and break the stigma of loneliness. A simple dinner meeting or drinks at a local bar will do. However, if you want to show off a bit more of your personality, a bowling or karaoke event can help bring people out of their shells and break the ice.

There are many ways to combat loneliness at work. However, it may be a process for some, especially if you experience social anxiety. Taking things slow and building connections at your own pace is a great way to start a more friendly work environment that you're comfortable with.