“Happy Hour” and After Hours at the Office

If you work for a small company or even a startup, you already know that networking and brainstorming sessions are essential to the growth of the company.

More often than not, these meet-ups take place over “happy hour” or even at an after-hours party in the office.Who can say no to a “build your own taco” bar and an office mate’s home brew?

For most drinkers, alcohol is relaxing, research has suggested that it even boosts creativity, and it helps many of us talk to people we don’t know very well. Even though there are many benefits to hosting a small party for the office, we’ve also seen how wrong it can go. Here are some ways to keep happy hour at the office or work events outside of the office smart and safe:

Plan Ahead

Whether you’re planning on small get together in the office after work or a meetup event at one of the local pubs, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead. First of all, you’ll have more attendees if you give a little heads up. More importantly, you’re giving everyone a chance to make alternate travel arrangements rather than everyone wondering what they will do with their cars.

Hire a DD or Ride Service

Nothing kills a great night out with colleagues than drinking and driving, getting a ticket, and risking a fatal accident. As the host of the social gathering, hire a designated driver (DD) or consider paying for transportation like a limo, taxis or a ride-share service.

Keep it Professional

If you’re drinking in the office after hours or meeting up for “happy hour,” it’s important to remember that while this is a social event you need to remain professional (to an extent). Even if you get along great with your co-workers and consider them friends, you shouldn’t drink like you might with friends on the weekend.

Set professional goals for yourself, like “meet 5 new contacts” or “pitch 3 ideas.” Remember, this is an opportunity to boast about your work and talk shop in a different, more relaxed setting. Work is your goal, not how many drinks you can consume.

Setting Limits

Whether you are hosting the event or just attending, setting limits is a good way to keep everyone in check. If you’re having “happy hour” in the office, have everyone BYOB to share. You could also give out a few drink tickets to each person and then make the rest of the evening a cash bar (you could set up the same kind of system while drinking at a bar).

While talking about workplace appropriateness and expectations might be a bit of a buzz kill at the party, putting in a little blurb from HR in the Evite might be a wise move.

Offer Food and Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Offering non-alcoholic drinks not only encourages some to pace themselves but doesn’t make non-drinkers feel like outcasts. Food is always a good idea, too. Whether you have the event catered or set out a few hors d'oeuvres, you’re less likely to deal with people getting drunk on an empty stomach.

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About the Author

R. Pagliaro has been an offshore survey engineer, a computer engineer, a teacher, and more recently a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of a toddler who never rests. She is currently working on gathering more information and sharing what she has learned with those looking for knowledge or insight into topics such as military living, parenthood, and insurance... just to name a few. You can reach her on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/rosewill.ce