A reader writes:
I just started a new job a few months ago at a great company — it’s a well funded start-up, and I’m really excited about the opportunity. The only issue is that most of my colleagues are in their early to mid-20′s, live in the city where the office is located, and hang out together frequently — go to the gym, go out for drinks after work, etc. On the other hand, I am in my mid-30′s, married, with young children, and live about an hour-and-a-half away from the city by a very-limited bus and ferry schedule, and thus really need to bolt out the door right at 5 pm so I can be home by 7.
I’d like to find some way to bond with my colleagues, and get to know them on a more personal level. Any suggestions?
Ask people to have lunch with you, or to grab coffee.
Also, be an awesome coworker — helpful, responsive, and good at your job. That goes a long way.
And if you can swing it with the limited bus and ferry schedule, you could go to the occasional happy hour — not every month, but maybe once or twice a year.
But beyond that, I wouldn’t worry too much about joining in this social extravaganza. Yes, it does help to have good relationships with colleagues, and getting to know people in a more relaxed environment can help with that — it’s generally easier, after all, to feel cheerful instead of resentful about fielding someone’s last-minute, could-have-been-avoided-with-better-planning request for help when you’ve shared a beer with them and discussed your mutual crush on Kit Harington than if you only know them as the guy down the hall who always wears khakis. But the reality is that you’re at a different stage of life than most of your coworkers, your interests are probably going to be somewhat different, and you can accomplish a perfectly reasonable amount of coworker bonding through the stuff above, without feeling like you need to leave your spouse home with your kids while you do shots (or bench press, or whatever) with your coworkers.
Anyone want to advise differently?