If there's one major, overarching take-away I have from the past few consecutive years of full-time work, it's that getting to know your teammates is priceless.
It's a cold, rainy Monday morning, and I arrive at work with a tall to-do pile on my desk, and an email inbox that is worthy of being tackled by an entire team of dedicated responders. But, as I assess how busy my day is going to be, one of my colleagues sees me walking up the stairs and says, "I've just boiled the kettle, so you can make some tea quickly if you like". Another gets wind of my arrival, and from the corner remarks, "Morning Quintin! I hope you had a good weekend". And a third, once I reach my desk, says, "It looks like it'll be a hectic first day of the week, but I'm looking forward to our project catch-up this afternoon to round things off".
These are not merely "co-workers". They're my teammates. And while they may not be the friends I have around my dinner table on a Saturday evening, I do almost consider them part of a second family, with whom I'm spending 8 or more hours a day in a single building. I've learned over the past few years of working that it's immeasurably valuable to get to know your team, and I'm happy to say I put that belief into practice, and managed to foster some long-lasting relationships at work that will remain well beyond my time at the company.
Point 1: The atmosphere. It's just so more pleasant in the workplace if you're on good terms with your colleagues. Having a friendly "Hello" as you walk in the door, and someone willing to share what they did over their weekend with you to soften the blow of a particularly challenging day ahead really makes a difference. You can read the article I wrote about the team-building efforts I was involved with at my most recent company here.
Point 2: Helping and being helped. There's nothing quite like getting stuck and having someone close by willing to lend a hand, even though they don't have to. We'd like to think this is just common human behavior, but getting to know your teammates well really goes a long way when you're in need of a bit of assistance. I've always tried to be that person - willing to hop up out of my seat and quickly help a colleague out to make their day go a bit smoother. If we all do that for each other, the entire business benefits, over and above our own moods.
Point 3: My morals. Another major reason this topic is important to me is because it's just part of who I am. If you strike up a conversation with me in the supermarket checkout line, I'll happily banter along with you. If you drop something on the sidewalk, why would I not bend over and help you pick it up? It often ends up being reciprocal. You feel good, and I feel better for being able to lend a hand. And so, likewise, why would I not want to put some effort into understanding my colleagues on a more personal level (if that's what they want as well), and helping them out if need be, so that we all smile a little more around the office, especially on those hectic days.
Whatever your motivation for getting to know your team is, I can guarantee that my experience of doing so has been a thoroughly positive one. That's not to say that everyone around you will get along with you in the same way (or even at all), but it's so worth trying. And hey, it may even go so far that you gain someone new to spend those Saturday evenings with.