I never got the full experience of working from an office due to the pandemic. I am currently working from home and making the decision to move out of state to be at my companys HQ. I hope this will help boost my career by being near my co-workers, asking questions, participating in "water cooler" conversations and even helping out with non-technical tasks like filming a commercial (example of something I heard happen at the office).
Is there any tips you would recommend for someone to make the most out of their time in an office? I am planning on being there for at least a year and I was told I can have the empty seat right next to my manager.
I would recommend being proactive and utilizing your passions. For example, I saw people who organize regular team lunches, bring fun staff to team's happy hours (or start holding them with boardgames), schedule offsites or just randomly spend lunchtime with others.
Cooler conversations you mentioned are also good to build informal connections with your peers.
However, to actually boost your career it's usually better to start managing up. First, try to understand, what are the top priorities of your higher management. They could be team spirit (then all the above is great) or could be pretty technical ones.
Usually solving top problems for your Manager (and their Manager) is the most reliable way to boost the career.
Meet with people a lot and make friends!
My mentality here is to work backwards from what's lost in a remote work world and do everything you can to get it back.
Here's just some of the awesome things you can do:
The awesome thing about working at a startup is that almost always, the bonds are tightly knit as there's not a lot of you. I remember when I joined Course Hero back in 2015 and it was just 50 people - Everyone knew each other, and I remembered everyone's names. This is such a special feeling to deeply cherish.
Your career is also a marathon, not a sprint. It is not likely you will stay at this company, or any other company, forever. By doing the things I mentioned above, you are almost certainly going to make work friends that transcend the boundary and become real friends who will continue helping you and adding value to your life after you don't work at the same company anymore (future referrals are the most concrete way this happens for career). Building these genuinely deep, long-term relationships is just so, so much easier in an in-person environment, so in a nutshell, my goal is to try to do just that!