Last week myself and my coworkers had the pleasure of being able to celebrate all of our hard work with a company BBQ and pool party hosted by the President of our organization. We closed the office early and headed out for some drinks, food, games, sun and a few belly flop competitions. At first one may think, “Okay, how much time do I really want to spend with these people that I already see 45+ hours a week?” But, to be honest, everyone seemed to have a great time, enjoy each other’s company and walk away with lots of laughs and some great memories.
There are always differing opinions on whether or not you should socialize with your colleagues outside of the office, but there can be some great benefits to getting to know your team. Besides the fact that you’re expanding your network while getting to know everyone, you also gain additional insight into individual personalities, start to form friendships and give yourselves the opportunity to grow your team’s sense of togetherness. Getting to chat with folks about your favorite sports teams, TV shows or wedding plans doesn’t seem like anything too out of the ordinary, but having the opportunity to do it with individuals and departments outside of your own is a nice, added bonus.
Spending time with coworkers outside of work in a social setting can have its risks too. For example, discussing your favorite family stories over a beer is a great way to get to know each other and build trust, however drinking too much during those conversations and trash talking the boss or getting into a heated debate about politics has the potential to be a bit dangerous. You want to be sure that your colleagues leave the experience feeling that they got to know you better in a positive light, and not feeling that you over share, talk behind peoples backs and can’t be trusted.
If you’re someone whose work-life balance doesn’t allow you the flexibility to go out after work for a drink or two, look for some other opportunities to connect with your coworkers. CareerBuilder suggests carpooling to work, walking together during a break, grabbing lunch or jumping on the same train or bus.
Regardless of where or how you find time to hang out with your coworkers outside of the office, the benefits of building trust and encouraging teamwork help makes the work day more enjoyable!