we REALLY need to talk.
Do we actually need to talk about the culture of ‘after-work drinks’?
Do after-work drinks actually help anyone get ahead?
Standing by the bar, your boss turns around and leans over her shoulder. ‘This place is so busy,’ she shouts. ‘I’ll just buy a few bottles of white.’ You gulp and look at your watch – you’re supposed to be meeting friends on the other side of town in an hour. Still, two glasses won’t hurt. You’re angling for a promotion, and maybe if you get five mins alone with your manager, she’ll be able to give you some tips.
Four hours later, and you’re slumped over a table in the corner. ‘I just think that I’d be really great in a more senior position,’ you slur. ‘I’m really, really, really great in senior positions.’
Then you throw up into your handbag.
According to recent statistics, it’s thought that one in five UK employees will attend after-work drinks with colleagues at least once a month – 11 per cent of whom would prop up the bar ‘til the end of the night if it means spending one-on-one time with their boss, and two thirds who’ll head out for drinks with colleagues as a coping mechanism after a particularly stressful day. But while socialising with your desk mates can definitely help forge stronger relationships (there’s nothing quite like passing a secret bacon sandwich across the desk while clutching your head and emitting a low level moaning sound to establish a lifelong bond), as soon as we start equating out-of-hours networking with getting ahead, problems can start to pop up.
‘I’m really broke at the moment,’ says lawyer Anna*, 31. ‘I’m buying a house and I just don’t have the money for much of a social life. But as soon as I started trying to back out of some of the Thursday and Friday night drinking sessions at work, I realised people were getting tetchy with me in meetings. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I really feel like I’m being punished for it professionally.’
We all know that . We check Facebook in the office, and reply to work emails in the pub. We haven’t just redrawn the lines between work and play: we’ve erased them from our diaries altogether – and then questioned why we were ever using diaries in the first place when everything is digital these days anyway.
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