How-To: Improve the “Family Ties” in Your Office

I often say to people, “I finally work in a place where I love going to work on Monday and miss leaving on a Friday.” How many of you can say that about your job? But why do I love my job? Is it because I like the type of work that’s involved? Absolutely! How about the creative freedom I’m given? Certainly. How about the recognition for the work I do? That’s definitely nice!

But it’s not just those things…more importantly it’s how everyone in the office works together well, how we interact with each other every day, how we share stories about our lives, and tell jokes to one another. We’re not a “family” in the traditional definition, but we are an office family…we do spend at least 8 hours a day with each other. So if we’re around each other so much, how do we not get on each others’ nerves?

Below is just a list of things that we do, and have, that help us to strengthen the “family ties” within our office. By no means am I saying you HAVE to do these things…certainly we’re no Google commune…but these are a few of the little things that I think make a difference. Feel free to add your own list for others to try in their office:

  • Eat lunch at a central table in your office. You don’t HAVE to eat lunch there, but if you’re going to eat lunch in the office then eat with others in the office. Great discussions, stories, and ideas happen when you’re relaxed.

  • Set up a small creativity whiteboard in the main hallway. The idea here is that one person starts to draw a picture, then another person comes by and adds to it. By the end of the day, or week, you may end up with a hilarious drawing with funny quotes or bubble thoughts! It’s something small, but it lets you show your creativity and share that with others in the office.

  • Make sure each office has a small whiteboard next to the door. Not only can you use it to let people know your daily schedule…it makes a great spot to put funny doodles for people. You’d be surprised how many interesting doodles are around the office.

  • Hang pictures of your kids/family on your door or on the outside of your cubicle. It’s great to have pictures on your desk, but if people are just walking by and see a picture of your family…it’s a great conversation piece. This works great for those people in your office, or the newbies, who don’t really know anyone yet. Gives them something to talk about and let’s you quickly relate to each other.

  • Have pot lucks! Once a month have a pot luck, or maybe a pizza lunch!

  • Celebrate people’s birthdays during your monthly “all hands” meetings with cake and ice cream, sing “Happy Birthday” to them! Now…don’t do this in the “Office Space” style…at least serve cake and ice cream though 🙂

  • Get your office mates to rally around a good cause to help out someone in your office who may be experiencing something traumatic in their lives.

  • Celebrate special events in others’ lives (eg – marriages, baby showers, birthdays, earning a record, etc).

  • Start an office “book club.” If you’re not into books, no problem…how about TV show clubs? We’ve got a large number of people in our office who theorize and have in depth discussions about “24” — and yes, I’m very upset it’s going away…but HEY, they’re working on a movie!

What other things can you add to this list?

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Amanda Blount

I work in a great office too! And it is because of our boss. He is a boss who brings us together, and does not try to put us against each other (like our last boss). Keep in mind that office families are just like real families. You may not always get along, and you may actually figth from time to time… but you are still family and “I am sorry” will go a long way to making a family greater.

Just like a real family – accept each other as individuals and appreciate what each one has to give.

Just like in a real family – One kid will sometimes get more attention than the other – get over it, your turn will come.

I love my office family. Do I get along with everyone all the time? Of course not. BUT, pick on one of them and I stand by them as if they were blood relatives.

Oh yeah, figure out secret little nick names for each other – nice ones of course. I am called AUNT Bea (if you ever talk to me you will know why), the office Cheerleader, and at the end of the year LUCY (remember the Chocolate episode – think contracts instead of Chocolates – I threatened to eat the contracts once. LOL)!

My co-worker is called Blondie or Barbie (she doesn’t mind – she likes it), and etc. We have little names for each other and it is kind of an inside joke we only understand.

Dawn Lautwein

I’m a little jealous reading this. I like my job a lot, but seem to be getting more dissatisfied as time goes on, and I believe a big part is due to the lack of family / team relationships. I appreciate the suggestions.

Nichole Henley

oh my god I so want to work here… this has me written ALL OVER IT!! I tend to be the person that starts all of the above mentioned. But then again I am soooo much a people person. I know more about the people I work with because of “side relationships” I have with them that are started over a cup of coffee, a bump into them in the bathroom, a hello in the hallway, etc. The biggest thing for me is celebration. Whether someone new is coming on board or someone is leaving. People want to know that 1) they are wanted and 2) they will be missed. And doesn’t everyone like an excuse to celebrate? WITH CAKE!