Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cocktails in the office anyone?

When you drink at work, or with your coworkers, does it help or hinder you? makes The case for getting drunk at work in Slate: the advantage - being more creative; the disadvantage being thought less intelligent. It got me thinking about when it's good, and when it's bad, to drink with your colleagues.

In many situations social drinking with work is the norm, for example Lunchtime: My first job was in England in the land of a-pub-on-every-corner and a "couple of pints" every day along with lunch. Being the only girl in the department, and not a beer drinker, I could get away with "I'll just have a lemonade" every day, but the real reason I wasn't drinking was because if I did I'd fall asleep at my desk in the afternoon. I've simply never been able to drink in the day without a nap to follow. Of course, this need for a siesta following wine works very well on vacation in Italy... but not otherwise. My opinion - don't drink before 5pm if you are working.

Or at the Sales Meeting: Every great sales team I've ever worked with likes to let off steam, and with that usually comes the "let's do shots" moment of the evening. Rowdy sales girls and guys can be very entertaining. Laughter, challenge, ego on the line and, for the folks who walk the high wire every day, drinking together can be a powerful bonding experience. But it has to be managed -- Zero tolerance for the sexual overtures and hazing that can accompany too much liquor.

And now In and around the office: As companies compete for talent, alcohol is coming back to the office. Especially in the digital world in San Francisco and Manhattan - the office bar is alive and well. Kegs at the end of the week, or the end of the quarter, wine tastings, artisanal beers in the fridge - all common now in tech firms. At FirstRain we hold wine tastings and my creative BD leader has formed a partnership with Chassis the beer serving robot. He's a classy guy so she took him to a training event we hosted at -- needless to say he was a big hit!

But no matter how much fun you're having drinking with your co-workers, no matter how relaxed and creative it makes you, experience teaches you to keep an eye on two risks. The first is drinking carries a double standard for women. As Peggy Drexler reports "thanks to a hard-to-shake double standard akin to the old “slut versus stud,” there tends to be a different standard for how much women and men can drink and still be respectable in the morning". Of course this makes me mad but until it's not reality I never forget it.

The second is the intellect bias -- which a Wharton study calls  "The Imbibing Idiot Bias". While drinking with colleagues can help you open up and feel closer to each other it's never going to make you smarter. One of my closest friends has chosen sobriety for the rest of his life and he's definitely the smartest one on the room come many a midnight. Worth remembering when out with the crowd.

I'm very far from uptight when it comes to drinking, as my team knows. But never forget that we're all "always on" now, even in a bar at 10pm, if we are with people from work. And now that everyone has a camera on them all the time, you're always on unless in the safety of your own home with only your closest friends around you!

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