Alcohol in the workplace

Last week I was interviewed about alcohol in the workplace and more specifically the time-honored Danish tradition of occasionally having a beer after work in the workplace with your co-workers.

I’m all for it as a way to create and strengthen workplace relations.

I realize that there are countries or workplaces where you couldn’t possibly have a beer in the workplace for cultural, religious or other reasons. In that case a cup of tea or coffee after work might do the trick. The main point is to find a way to get to know your co-workers as people instead of just as professionals.

In Denmark there are rarely any barriers to having a beer after work. Mogens Nørgård, the CEO of Danish IT company Miracle just told me about his company’s alcohol policy which is this:

“There must always be good beer in the fridge.”

And of course there’s Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote:

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Your take

Does your workplace allow for the occasional beer around quitting time? Is this something you enjoy or prefer to avoid? What other ways do you enjoy to get to know the people you work with as more than just professionals and co-workers?

7 thoughts on “Alcohol in the workplace”

  1. The company I work for actually produces alcoholic beverages and while we are not allowed to consume alcohol on premises, we are occasionally allowed to have a small (1 ounce) sample for taste evaluations. On one such occasion, we were told to give the beverage a rating from 1 to 5 for various traits and then to leave any extra commentary in the notes. I wrote, “Please bring a larger sample. Preferably a 16 ounce size.”
    On a more serious note, a bunch of co-workers and I all got together at a fellow co-workers home after work one night and grilled up steak, played yard games, board games and had a few drinks together. What a great time! (And nobody talked about work!)

  2. Two words: Happy Hour! From time to time we go down to the local bar and have some drinks together, after hours. But the best thing my coworkers and I do is to take time for lunch together in the cafeteria. I can’t believe how many people eat lunch at their desks. I look forward to bantering with my coworkers at lunch.

  3. Our’s is a recruitment firm. We pride ourselves on having an adult culture. Our fridge is always stocked with a selection of beers and wines. It is very common for groups of people to sit around after work and have a drink and a chat. Also, people will often grab a glass of their favorite beverage to take back to their desk and keep working if they are staying back later. It’s quite pleasant to sip on a nice wine while finishing off the day’s work. My observation is that our alcohol policy promotes interaction and demonstrates to our staff that we trust them. Something we do must be working, we were ranked number six in the best places to work in Australia last year.

  4. Rob: I recall hearing someone joke — with good reason — that Australia lucked out because you got the convicts and we Americans got the puritans. I can’t even imagine that sort of thing in the cubicles of a mainstream American corporate workplace — for the same reason parents who try to start small children out with watered table wine in this country risk jailtime.

  5. I ran pubs for many years and we had a little drink after work a couple of times a week, after a busy session, but you do have to watch it, it can become an issue if people drink during work.

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