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I recently started a new gig at an extremely chill company, and while I love it, it’s definitely a culture shock. My only other job since college was working for a medical corporation which had the exact opposite of a cool company culture, and there are parts of my new job that I’m still getting used to. Along with learning to work while people are playing pool and foosball around me and having to use self-control to not eat ten pounds of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that our break room is stocked with, this is also my first time being exposed to an office with a full bar in it. It’s not exactly as raucous as Mad Men made me think, but it’s not that far off either. After a couple of weeks (and a few mistakes), I think I’m qualified to give you tips on how to get your drink on at the office.
Do stick to beer
Unless you’ve got the word “director” or higher in your title, you can’t be seen slamming hard liquor in the office. It’s unfair, I know, but that’s just corporate America for you. Have I seen our director of development taking down a glass of scotch well before 5 p.m.? Yes. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks. You and I, however, can’t get away with it. Although liquor actually helps my creative process and beer just makes me lazy, I’m not going to have the opportunity to explain that to my boss if he walks by and sees this company’s newest hire hitting the booze like a seasoned vet. Earn your place.
Don’t drink before 3 p.m.
I wish I could say this is to keep up appearances of a well-balanced, non-alcoholic employee, but in my field, no one cares. You could be bombed at work as long as you do your job and don’t cause an HR nightmare. However, as I learned the hard way, drinking that early in the day absolutely tanks your energy. My third day in the office we had a two-hour booze cruise as an “appreciation lunch,” and I, of course, put a heavy buzz on before 2 p.m. By three I was unable to concentrate on anything. By four I was willing to lose my job if it meant I could take even a twenty-minute nap. By five I was nursing a hangover. Luckily, everyone around me was in the same boat, but I nonetheless I learned my lesson. Unless the end of the day is clearly within sight, don’t crack a beer.
Do offer your coworkers a beer
Drinking alone is the first sign of alcoholism, and there’s no need for you to go down that path today. More often than not, your coworkers will either be down for a drink, or appreciate the gesture. Sneaking off to the fridge and drinking by yourself not only makes you look inconsiderate and not a team player, but it makes people think you’re trying to hide your drinking. There’s nothing to hide. Be proud of your choice to have a beer at your desk, and invite your fellow employees to partake as well.
Don’t try and cover up your buzz
Your coworkers aren’t dumb. They notice that you’ve partaken in some afternoon brewskis, and they understand the effect alcohol has on the human body. You’re not fooling anyone by overcompensating and trying to act buttoned up. There’s no shame in getting a little loose and enjoying yourself at work. You’ll look much less drunk if you’re a little more smiley than usual than you will if you’re acting like a robot because you’re trying to remember what acting normal is like. Is slouching making you look drunk? Is this how you normally nod your head? Congratulations, you’ve overthought it and now you look like a drunk alien somehow took over your body. Just relax. If your office lets you drink, it’s not a trap, and they’re ok with you catching a light buzz.
Do get your work done
There’s no easier way to lose your “chill office” privileges than abusing the open bar policy. Just because alcohol has touched your lips doesn’t mean you’re not still at work. You’re a grownup. You should know how alcohol affects you. If you can’t work and drink, don’t drink. If you can toss a few back and still hammer out emails and be somewhat productive, go for it. You don’t have to be setting any model employee records, but you shouldn’t just turn into a total bum either.
Don’t keep the party going
Unless it’s a Friday, nothing good will come of you continuing the party at happy hour, or god forbid, a late night bar. I know how hard it is not to keep drinking when you’ve started. Believe me, I made this mistake last night and am currently chugging water at my desk and contemplating breaking my own rule and cracking a beer at 11 a.m. There’s a thin line between “a responsible good time,” and “that guy needs to slow it down.” Steer clear of the latter..