Bringing the Office Happy Hour into the Break Room: Building Bonds After 5:00

Posted by on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 with Comments Off on Bringing the Office Happy Hour into the Break Room: Building Bonds After 5:00 Comments

The office happy hour is back. Not the, “Hey gang, let’s head to the bar” kind of happy hour — that never went away. Rather, there’s a growing trend of happy hours in the office itself: rather than heading to a nearby pub, employees will congregate in the break room and share a few craft beers from the office fridge at the end of the workday. Blame it on the cultural influence of the hard-drinking ad execs on Mad Men, or even on the young, male-skewing startup scene in San Francisco. Whatever the reason, it seems like workplace happy hours (and office kegerators) are here to stay.

But isn’t drinking on the job a bad thing? Not necessarily, according to the companies who are making a habit of hosting weekly in-office happy hours. The trend has certainly taken off in the tech and social media worlds, where fast growth has translated into long hours and extended workweeks. Many employers see happy hours as a way to offset the added stress that can be unavoidable in such fast-paced environments.

office happy hour keg pour

Are office kegs the new Ping-Pong tables?
Image source: flickr user sunlightfoundation2

At HERO|farm marketing agency in New Orleans, the break room fridges are typically stocked with beer at the end of the week. “Afternoon brainstorming sessions are usually improved with a few hops,” Shaun Walker, the agency’s creative directo, tells Draft Magazine. “It’s also important on Friday afternoons to connect as real people after we’ve been working like machines all week.”

While after-hours small talk over a beer may seem incidental, it’s precisely these kinds of social connections — forged during the more relaxed, laid-back office happy hours — that can lead to the more personally engaged relationships that many experts cite as crucial to job satisfaction and smoothly-running workplaces.

office happy hour

The break room can become a hub of social activity at an office happy hour.
Image source: flickr user MattHurst

Companies that are frequently ranked as top workplaces know that employee happiness and feeling appreciated are both linked to long-term job satisfaction, and see that as reason enough to encourage raising a glass within the walls of the office. Denver-based research firm Datalogix offers monthly company gatherings with performance awards, catered meals, and beer. “I worked for a company within our same industry that didn’t offer any of the types of activities that we have here,” account manager Daniel McCallum told the Denver Post. “There was no sense of community, no sense of camaraderie. It was essentially just clock in, clock out, do your job, go home. At Datalogix, it’s a place where you want to be. You’re invested in more than just the day to day.”

To host a happy hour in your own office, you don’t necessarily need a tricked-out kegerator or a full bar in the break room. Stock the office refrigerator with a selection of beers from a local craft brewery, and keep a few bottles of wine on hand as well so employees have some options. Don’t forget to provide some festive non-alcoholic beverages for those who don’t drink, like unique bottled sodas or alcohol-free “mocktails”. And it’s a very smart idea to provide an array of drinking snacks, including a few options a bit heartier than potato chips; having food on hand makes it more likely that non-drinkers will join in the fun, and prevents anyone committing the happy hour faux pas of drinking on an empty stomach. Once your office gets into the happy hour habit, you can mix it up with easy themes like Coronas and Mexican appetizers or German lagers and soft pretzels.

pouring wine at office happy hour

Provide an assortment of beverages so everyone can participate.
Image source: flickr user sunlightfoundation

Concerned about workers overindulging? At Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, where wine and beer are stocked alongside sodas and bottled water, they have a simple policy. As a company spokeswoman tells Bloomberg News, “We treat employees as adults, and they act accordingly.”

For a no-fuss office happy hour that’s sure to be a success, the company catering experts at are here to help. From picking the perfect food to pair with your beer to a more elaborate office holiday party, our easy online ordering makes planning workplace events a breeze. We’ll cheers to that!

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