Not so long ago, I asked a former co-worker what makes him so calm during our extremely busy hours at work. He replied “a daily sip of wine”. It took me a second to process the potential benefits of alcoholic drinks in the office.
Alcohol can play a large role in the culture of many workplaces. From social functions and events to regular lunches and celebrations, office drinking serves as a means of managing work-related issues including employee stress and tension.
As we know, alcohol is one of the most ubiquitous and unifying products in the world. It is, in one form or another, consumed in great volume in every corner of the Earth.
And in this modern era, there’s good news for all you lovers of office libation – boozing in the office is definitely in fashion! A long-since-exiled workplace habit is now making a big comeback.
A Brief History of Office Drinking Culture
The presence of alcohol in offices has ebbed and flowed over time and largely depended on the type of business.
The big changes to US work culture haven’t just been all about modern appearances and policies. Office culture also has undergone a number of major changes since the 1950s.
Office drinking had its culmination in the work cultures of the ’50s and ’60s. But attitudes began to change starting in the 80s and 90s. Drinking at work mysteriously became forbidden.
This major shift happened to coincide with when congress downsized the business meal and entertainment tax deduction in 1987 and then again in 1994. Drinking on the job dwindled into a cultural taboo.
But in the last decade or so, there’s been a resurgence of drinks in the office. For many companies—often startups and agency-like firms—drinking on the job is now considered a perk.
Bloomberg’s Businessweek reports that Yelp’s headquarters in San Francisco is equipped with “a keg refrigerator” that “supplies its employees with an endless supply of beer.”
It’s a great time to live in— where our perceptions of office drinking culture have already shifted and we’re gearing towards more innovations.
Benefits Of Drinks at Work
Alcoholic drinks hold great power over modern society and, especially, over modern workers.
Whether workplace enjoyment, productivity, or employee health and well-being form part of your workplace’s rationale, an office culture around alcohol provides a number of benefits for workplaces. Here are 7 compelling reasons to embrace drinks in the office.
1. Incentivizes employee performance
Holding a happy hour in the office brings after-hours activity into the professional space. It’s both a way to keep employees around longer while fostering internal connections.
Light drinking in the workplace may help some employees to feel appreciated and keep them committed to the company. Furthermore, modern workers especially expect an office culture that allows them to be their true selves at work. They see alcoholic beverage in the office as a major perk to their job.
Many managers now are providing fridges full of drinks because they understand workplace stress – they want employees to feel free to forget the stress, alleviate the pressures, and forgo the office politics for the time being. Remember to do this enthusiastically but with restraint.
2. Helps employees bond and connect
For most of us, courage from an alcoholic beverage can be the reason we have the gall to approach that group across the room or start a conversation with people we don’t really know.
Business deals, new friendship, and strong bonds are often formulated over drinks, and networking events tend to occur after hours.
Grabbing a beer or a glass of wine with a couple of coworkers (even from other departments) is definitely a form of networking. When enjoyed in moderation, it has a tendency to lower our inhibitions, which can lead your team to form new relationships and forge new bonds. These bonds, in turn, result in a more engaged team.
In Japan, drinks in the office are also very common. In fact, it can be an unspoken requirement in many companies. They feel that it is an important way to enhance relationships. Like them, it can be useful for you to understand who your coworkers are and their typical mindset when they are relaxed and outside of the office.
3. Improves recruitment and retention
Office drinking culture can have a number of positive impacts on workplaces. One of them is that it may help attract new talent. In fact, some businesses highlight their free alcohol policies as a way of getting new hiring prospects.
Not only is it something employees want (no surprise there), it’s also something employers feel can attract and retain today’s more progressive-minded modern workers.
Companies, including Yelp, Google, and almost every Ad agency in New York, offer alcoholic perks to their employees — and for good reason.
Research shows employees with alcohol in their systems work faster and are better problem solvers than their sober counterparts. But before you make a case about working drunk, know these benefits don’t apply to the flat-out intoxicated. The key is to meet somewhere in the middle.
As a result of this research, more companies are attempting to attract modern employees with office bars and casual environments.
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4. Saves employees from tension meltdown
Drinking can reduce fears and take your mind off of your troubles. It can help you feel less shy, give you a boost in mood, and make you feel generally relaxed. In fact, alcohol’s effects can be similar to those of anti-anxiety medications.
With that said, a glass of wine or a beer can be a helpful option to calm employees’ nerves when dealing with stressful work days or nervous situations.
A study, which analyzed more than 2,600 men and 2,800 women over a seven-year period, found that people who drank two to seven glasses of wine a week were less likely to suffer from depression. Also, it can be helpful in reducing stress.
With that said, the availability of alcohol in the workplace can create a positive impact on employees’ well-being. There is a certain lucidity that alcohol can offer, putting us in a state to work fast and have fun.
Not only does office drinking culture make your working environment enjoyable, but it also helps employees decompress during stressful hours and serves as a coping mechanism after a particularly bad day.
5. Improves employees’ creative problem-solving
Nowadays, many modern corporate offices already condone drinking on the job. As it turns out, a little bit of alcohol really can support creative thinking.
Research has even shown that workers who drink are more productive and can better explore unorthodox solutions. A certain level of inebriation can help get the creative juices flowing.
In fact, a US experiment reported in Harvard Business Review showed that when 20 young men drank enough vodka cranberry cocktails to push their blood alcohol levels close to the legal limit of 0.08, they solved a bunch of word puzzles better and faster than 20 other blokes who stayed sober.
Apart from that, an earlier study also found that light to moderate drinking can actually help relax your brain and get you thinking more clearly. It was even found to help people not overthink and come to better, more thought-out solutions.
So if you need to get your creative juices flowing, one to two glasses of alcohol can actually help you and your team become creative problem-solvers.
6. Promotes trust and respect
Since the corporate life has changed a lot in the last decade or so, work has become more flexible. It accommodates the needs of individuals according to their lifestyle and stage of life.
The majority of the younger generation or modern workers prefer an environment with more freedom and a more relaxed work atmosphere. Bringing adult beverages into your office will send your workers a message that you trust your employees to act like responsible adults.
No one wants to feel trapped in a strict and toxic working environment. Trusting them to know their own limits and partake in the occasional in-office drink helps do just that. They will feel more respected and trusted.
Moreover, they will also find it easier to talk to their colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere inside work. Relationships with coworkers may develop closer casual talks and employees may be more open to sharing concerns about their work or about other coworkers.
7. Improves employees’ health and well-being
We probably all know that getting wasted every day might not be the best thing for your physical or mental well-being, but moderate alcohol consumption may have some substantial health benefits.
From reducing your stress to lengthening your life, there are a number of health benefits from moderate drinking.
Research even suggests that one drink a day helps reduce a person’s risk of heart disease by up to 40%. Moderate drinking has also been found to reduce a person’s risk for diabetes and decrease their chances of developing dementia.
In view of this, a responsible office drinking culture can improve the health and well-being of employees. It is also as clear as day that drinks in the office unlock so many other productivity benefits from more motivation to extra energy.
For decades we’ve been hearing about the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.
Getting intoxicated every day is obviously not good for you. But as a society, we already seem to have latched onto this idea that small amounts of alcohol are actually beneficial for your health and well-being.
Some research shows that the actual act of socializing in a drinking setting makes people feel more engaged and trusting of their friends and community.
The upshot is that, for people working on something creative or problem-solving, drinks in the office could actually help job performance. Check out this list of drink ideas if you’re struggling to come up with something beyond a chardonnay and an IPA.
Whatever it is, we can agree that as long as you keep your imbibing under control and your sipping in moderation, office drinking culture has a number of benefits for the employees and for the organization as a whole.
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