It’s 3.30pm on Friday. Productivity levels are low. Buzzfeed articles are being read. Phone calls are going unanswered. Finally, the moment everyone has been waiting all week for – the drink cart arrives. The angelic tinkling of glasses and bottles signaling the end of the working week and the ultimate excuse to shut down computers and officially call it the weekend. “Sparking, white, red, beer or cider” – the standard cattle call we yell across the office encouraging everyone to participate in this work-related social event.
Some are eager, some are coerced, and some try and avoid eye contact so they don’t have to explain why they don’t actually want a drink (*gasp*). Standard excuses are often thrown around at this point from those trying to counteract the intense peer pressure of their colleagues.
‘I plan on going to the gym tonight’ – It’s Friday! Nobody goes to the gym on Friday. Just have a drink and go tomorrow instead…
‘I’m not drinking… I had a big weekend last weekend and just need to take a break’ – One drink won’t hurt. You can’t sit there and not drink anything…
‘I’m on a detox’ – *Collective eye roll* How long will this one last?
‘I’ve got to drive home’ – Just leave your car and pick it up tomorrow!
For those willing (and not so willing) participants Friday Night drinks unintentionally has become the centre of workplace culture and office social life. Discussions steer away from deadlines and KPIs and instead turn into meaningless debates and frivolous topics, giving us the opportunity to get to know our work mates on more personal level irrespective of their job title or position. There is so often a sense of ‘you’re missing out’ or ‘you’re being antisocial’ if you don’t attend or participate, regardless of what your reasons to avoid alcohol might be.
So how does this ingrained culture of drinking equating to being social change in the workplace? Well, it’s definitely not going to change overnight – not in my workplace anyway. But maybe it’s time we looked at alternatives means of social interaction that doesn’t necessarily involve a drink in hand (foreign concept – I know). Maybe participate in after work team sports? Or do some volunteer work with your colleagues? Or maybe even get a little cultured and visit an art exhibition.
Standing around a drinks cart hearing about how Mark from Accounting’s wife knitted him a jumper made out of their dog’s hair doesn’t have to be the only way to socialise with colleagues… surely.
Lara enjoys talking footy, music and pop-culture, and does not care about your pets or knitwear. Lara will be signing up to the Weekender Challenge in January and is hopeful that it will be reason enough to turn down a vino when the drink cart rolls out.