Here at Treehouse Partners, we like to sit back and enjoy a glass of California cabernet or sip on local craft beers at the end of the day from time to time. Casual office happy hours have become fairly standard in office culture. It’s a great way to unwind and reward yourself after a hard days’ work; employees get the chance to socialize in a laid-back setting, meet colleagues outside of their own department, and have time for longer conversations that can’t be squeezed into work time. Drinking can be a dangerous game, however, so it’s important to keep a level head at any official or unofficial work function where alcohol is involved. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind the next time your work pal drags you to Applebee’s for Dollaritas:
Do: Make an effort to get to know your coworkers
Forming relationships with coworkers takes time, and, at the office (especially if you work in a fast-paced job where there’s little time for socialization), it can be difficult to get a sense of who your colleagues really are. Is there someone you’d like to get to know better at work? Offer to buy him or her a beer, and start a conversation! Ask thoughtful questions–how long have they been with the company? Where did they go to school? Many adult friendships are formed in the workplace, and it’s easier to get to know someone when you’re not stressing about handing in a report on time or trying to schedule a meeting.
Do: Take advantage of introductions to employees outside your own department
In large offices, many people don’t get the chance to spend time with employees from other departments. Office social events are a great place to introduce yourself to people you haven’t had the chance to meet yet. This is particularly helpful if you’re considering making a move to another department down the line–being on a first-name basis with that department’s head will give you a leg up should you elect to switch gears later on.
Do: Feel free to share work-friendly information with your colleagues
You’ll probably get fired if you spend the entire work-day showing your coworkers photos of your six-year-old’s Batman pajama party–but it’s more than OK to share details about your personal life with your coworkers outside work! Talking about your pilates class, passion for cooking, or books you’re reading will help you to discover common interests pave the way for friendships with your team members.
Don’t: Over-share personal information that should be kept private or might endanger your job.
The flip side of sharing personal details is that you need to be cautious about which information you choose to share. A group setting with people from work is not the best place to ruminate on your divorce or discuss the best strip clubs in your area. Watch your language, too–dropping f bombs in every sentence won’t win you any points with the boss.
Don’t: Use the time to gossip or complain about your boss, coworkers, etc.
Similarly, work functions are not an appropriate setting for whining about the people you work with. Office gossip has a way of getting around, so even if you think you’re having a quiet laugh with your friend about Linda in accounting’s fashion choices, there’s a good chance someone could overhear. Refrain from making negative comments about others at any work event–not only do you run the risk of your statement coming back to bite you in the you-know-what, but people may start to wonder what you say about them when they’re not around.
Don’t: Get too drunk!!!
This should absolutely go without saying, but unfortunately, having one too many at an office happy hour is not uncommon. Keep your wits about you to avoid some of the “don’ts” we’ve outlined above. Don’t make a fool of yourself; the image of the Head of Marketing dancing on a table after seven shots of Patron is difficult to shake–not to mention the hangover that’s sure to follow. It’s a good idea to give yourself a drink limit and stick to it–and if you do happen to find yourself a bit more intoxicated than you’d planned, make sure to call an Uber or friend to come pick you up.
Whether you’re cracking open a cold one at your desk or meeting up with your team at the Mexican restaurant around the corner, office happy hours are a fun way to relax and catch up with your teammates after work. Just make sure to keep your head straight and your mouth shut when it comes to certain topics–no one likes a whiner or a gossip. Take advantage of opportunities to socialize with your existing work friends, and branch out and get to know people outside of your department. Sit back, relax, loosen up, and have a good time! Cheers!