Camaraderie Over Cocktails: The Benefits of a Weekly Office Happy Hour

It began during layoffs. A pall of dread had fallen over the office, and day by day everyone was just awaiting word on whether they would still have a job. People would gather in the office of one of the managers, commiserating about the situation over beverages. People brought in different types of alcohol, and the manager mixed drinks. Eventually, the period of layoffs passed, but the tradition of gathering continued. Once a week, every Thursday at 5pm, something wonderful happened.

Now, to be sure, this gathering met the company requirements. It was set in a time period in which office drinking was permitted, and it had the approval of an SVP. He was one of the regulars at the gathering anyway. Everything was above board as far as policy was concerned. And good things came from it. 

This weekly happy hour brought together people who didn't often talk in person, and at times connected people who only knew one another from email threads. Often I saw team leads or department heads who had been at the company for years without meeting making their first acquaintance at this friendly gathering. This worked wonders for networking and resolving internal issues. 

One week I even got my turn as bartender. It was our custom that when a regular traveled, they would try to bring back alcohol from where they had been. I'd made a trip to Brazil, so I brought in cachaça. The manager who usually played host to our gathering was going away on a trip herself, so I took her seat (literally) and mixed up caipirinhas that evening. People didn't have the usual breadth of options, but we still had a chance to get together for friendly banter and let off steam.

One evening as we were in the midst of our revelry, I looked around and thought how special this was. A time like this would not last forever. Sadly, of course, that's true. Eventually the manager and a few others were laid off, and then COVID hit and more of us were laid off. What has lingered has been the memory of camaraderie and the lesson that good things happen when people are able to voluntarily get together at work to connect, vent, and simply have a good time.  

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