The Do’s And Don’ts Of The Office Happy Hour

By RICHIE FRIEMAN — Despite having the occasional ‘case of the Mondays,’ work doesn’t always have to be a drag. In fact, when you have good people around you, it makes a world of difference.

I’ve had nightmare jobs before but worked with great people, which helped save me from going insane. We’ve all been there, right?

do's and don't of office happy hour

You have your small group of friends at work that you always hang out with grab a morning coffee, eat lunch, and even get together outside of work. And at large office events, you gravitate toward one another like old college buddies.

But what happens when you head out to an office happy hour with a larger group of coworkers?

Specifically, with people who are outside your group? Office happy hours create camaraderie amongst the team, but can also be a dangerous breeding ground for inappropriate behavior. And some coworkers like to lose their minds as if it was college! ‘Who’s up for a keg stand?!?!’

I don’t care if you work for the hottest bar in Las Vegas where your job is to get wild and wasted 24/7, there is always going to be a level of professionalism that even the craziest party animal shouldn’t cross.

I’m not trying to say you can’t have fun. But acting properly at office events is not about being boring, it’s about not becoming the topic of conversation at the water cooler the next day or needing someone to drive you home because your face has been planted (and drooling) on the bar table for an hour.

Know Your Limit

I’m not what you’d call a ‘tall drink of water.’ In fact, some would argue that I’m more of a ‘to-go cup’ at Chuck E. Cheese’s. At 5’5′ and 155 lbs, I definitely have a limit to my alcohol intake a limit I do not cross in professional social situations.

Everyone has their own limit and I’m sure yours is different from mine but still, when it comes to an office happy hour the rule is: know your limit and, more importantly, STICK TO IT!

People tend to forget that it’s still a work function and whether you like it or not, you are under the judging eye of your colleagues, people you interact with and have to see every day. Some stick-in-the-mud may even report you to HR the next day if you do something they consider inappropriate while three sheets to the wind on T.G.I. Friday’s ‘wings and things’ special.

In addition, the last thing you need is to have that 19-year-old intern drive you home because all he had was bar mix and diet soda.

How embarrassing!

An office happy hour is supposed to be a fun way to get together and forget about ‘work stuff’ for a few hours and it is. But, you have to remember that no matter how loose and friendly things get after a few drinks, it is still is a work function. So when it comes to an office happy hour, stick to your limit and don’t make a fool out of yourself.


As I mentioned before, it’s great to have your small group of friends at work who are your comfort zone.

However, when it comes to an office happy hour with a large group, you need to mix it up. I’m not saying you shouldn’t still talk to your pals, but don’t park yourself at the table all night. No, this isn’t speed dating, but why limit yourself? Why not meet some great people and get to know your coworkers in a cool, relaxed environment?

While at an office happy hour, take advantage of talking to someone you rarely see.

Or better yet, talk to your boss more openly. You might discover there is a real person behind that tough exterior. People always let their guards down at office happy hours and it’s that openness that can give you the chance to interact with colleagues that you usually would not have any contact with. It’s also a great way to network and learn about what your coworkers are up to.

Chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised about how fun someone is outside the office when they are not focused on deadlines or running to meetings.

For example, a colleague of mine was always super quiet and reserved at work. He rarely left his desk and never went out to lunch. Then, one night at a happy hour he showed up it was like a 180-degree turn.

He was outgoing, talkative (and not from the alcohol either), and it turned out we had a lot in common. It felt like we were old friends. And I never would have known that about him if it wasn’t for the happy hour.

Ditch the Smartphone

I admit it, I’m guilty of keeping my iPhone on me at all times. Even last night when my dog ran out of the house and I chased after him in my pajamas, I still had my iPhone in my pocket. And for the record, Beagles are lightning fast!

Yet, when it comes to social situations, I put the device away. It’s rude to stare at your smartphone while others are talking or constantly step outside to use the phone, taking yourself away from the party. Yes, there are times when you need to take a call or check in with the babysitter and by all means do so but during a short happy hour, just let is rest for a bit.

You might think that because you are at an office event, you need to show that you are working, but that is not the case. In fact, nothing looks more impressive than when you can say to your coworkers and boss that you already took care of a certain situation.

Everyone is at the happy hour to enjoy one another’s company and relax, so don’t think you are impressing anyone by constantly checking your crackberry. Use this time to connect with your coworkers and save your smartphone battery.



Source:, 8 January 2012

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