Workplace Socials

Postby tashlentine » Tue May 30, 2017 2:08 pm

I know that we have posters from all over the world here so I thought it would be really interesting to see what you guys think of this and how this workplace culture differs from your own.

I'm in the UK. There's an increasing thing happening over here - particularly among companies that like to think of themselves as 'trendy' and following in the footsteps of companies like facebook, apple and innocent and focus on building an internal culture among their employees. On the one hand this is great! Theoretically employers are finally starting to treat their worker-bees like people and working to build a sense of community within their corporations - to try and make everyone who works there feel like part of a big happy family.

Realistically this basically equates to quasi-compulsory 'social time' - aka lets all hang out together after work and get drunk. There is a dark side to this however, which is that anyone who doesn't want to take part in this after-work 'fun' is looked on as someone who is not a team-player.

I have personally experienced this, and it's the side I'm curious to hear your views on. I worked at this company who was in the Times top 25 companies to work for 2015/2016. The CEO saw himself as a social visionary. We were lauded for being innovative, with lots of incentives to keep employees motivated. Things like cycle schemes to help you buy a bike, free massages during working hours (once a month), friday socials and hackathons, and huge summer parties that were more like festivals. It all sounds amazing on paper, doesn't it? They had a small office in London which is where I worked, and a huge office in another city in the UK. It were a very young company, so most employees were between 18 and 30. The company was like a little bubble - it was their world - their social sphere: people met their other halves there, they all worked together, ate lunch together, hung out together after work, even lived together in flatshares.

You could view this culture in one of two ways:
1) Woooow this is AMAZING!!! these people are so cool!!! I'd love to be part of a family like this
2) holy sh** what is this, a cult?!

If you're anything like me, work is work and you have a life outside work. No matter how great my colleagues were I personally didn't want to spend my entire life with people I work with. I have my own friends and family that I want to hang with after work, or just have some alone-time to do chores and relax. However this wasn't a good enough excuse. The only way you weren't guilted into going to the pub was if you had small children to get home to. I don't drink because I'm allergic to alcohol, so going to a pub after a long day at work to watch people I don't really care about get increasingly drunk and trying to convince me to essentially drink poison is not my idea of fun. They always went out for drinks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and I went to a dance class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with my friends; so to me it was a no-brainer. I see these people every day, obviously I'm going to choose to see my friends twice a week.

The company had an AGM in the big office which was 3 hours away. Attendance was optional because it started at 4pm. It meant 6 hours of travelling in a day to sit in an auditorium for 5 hours being told about what we did that year, and not getting home until midnight. My colleague and I had a ton of work we had to do. He wanted to go home after work to support his wife who had just had their first child. My mother was having some health problems and I wanted to get home and call her and see how she was. We both basically had our bosses tell us that we were going whether we wanted to or not. I also didn't go to the summer party because a relative was having a heart bypass, and to me family is more important than a job.

My 'resistance' to going to company socials was seen as a huge issue and was actually brought up in my half-yearly review. Apparently by not attending socials and after work drinks I was giving off the message to my colleagues that I wasn't invested in the company, or the team, that I didn't like them as people and didn't want to socialise with them. I already worked at least 2 hours overtime every night that I wasn't getting paid for, and on top of that I was being forced to go to a pub? I'm sorry, but since when did having to be besties with colleagues become part of a job description? You are there to do a job - it doesn't matter what you think of your colleagues as long as you are pleasant to everyone and get your job done on time and done well - when the clock strikes 6pm your life is yours. But I was actually told that I had to be more social outside work!?!? What the actual F?!?

I am not the only person who has experienced this culture of 'compulsory socialisation' at work and thinks it is messed up. I'm hearing about it more and more from friends who are exhausted all the time because of the pressure put on them by workmates to go out drinking every night after work. My boyfriend recently turned down a job for £10k more money, because he got the very strong impression that that place was a similar thing, and didn't want to be sucked into this cult-like way of working. You should hang out with people because you want to not because you are made to feel that you have to.

Is this something that is limited to London? or is this a culture that is happening in other places? Do you think it's ok? or do you think it's unhealthy?
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue May 30, 2017 5:14 pm

tashlentine wrote:Is this something that is limited to London? or is this a culture that is happening in other places? Do you think it's ok? or do you think it's unhealthy?


This happens in all corners of the world and there is nothing new or trendy about it. It just gets relabeled and a new twist is thrown in here or there based on the generation. If you don't show up to the King's ball your not going to gain his favor or anyone else's. People don't want to associate with you, because you might be the next to get the axe or be labeled a heretic.

From pre-agrarian cultures, the dark ages, the renaissance, the Industrial Age and now the Information Age the concept of attending court remains the same, except now the King organizes a flash mob. Did you attend the flash mob? No? Heretic.

Networking is part of our species. Those that develop and cultivate that skill get great reviews, better raises, promotions and are highly valued. The real experts, like a friend of mine Hugh Sinnock, are masters to watch. While I would go for my 4th beer to sip during my 3rd hour as I clumsily networked, Hugh would show up 30 minutes late, grab 1 beer, circle the room, say hello to everyone, spend 5 minutes with the King and then work his way out the door. While I got exhausted and made no progress, he was brilliant.

I'm not a fan of kissing the Kings ring, but that's life...well unless you just pack your bags and go travel the world, heh heh. And if you do find yourself in a horrible court (think near the end of Rome when 50% of the year was celebrations - talk about burnt out from excessive worshipping the emperor) then you find yourself a new job, a new court, a new King.
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#2

Postby popcorn123 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:09 am

Hi tashlentine,

I have become more exposed to this sort of workplace culture myself. I am also from the UK (London) and can relate to what you're saying about the attempts to have a more "fun" and "integrated" workplace with team-building, etc. As for the going out drinking after work, I just thought that was typical British culture that has been going on for as long as pubs have existed.

Anyway, I am not a drinker, due to religious reasons, and on top of that am encouraged not to be in drinking environments at all. Last year I was working at a company (outside of London, though that doesn't really matter...) where I was the only religious individual there. The people were lovely though. However, there were times when they would organise trips to the pub after work. I managed to avoid these. But actually found it hard to do so because I had gone, on two occasions, to the pub with them during lunch times when they were going to celebrate some milestone/achievement of one of the projects. At the times that they had invited me then, I found it difficult to say no. Although I felt uncomfortable going (there's always that voice in the back of the head) I made things awkward for myself by not being direct from the beginning. When I refused to go later down the line, I explained my reasons, but my lack of conviction and previous compliance must have confused them. However, they were on the whole understanding people and nice about it all.

There was just one thing that my colleague said about how it could affect my job if I were to get a permanent position there (it was just a temporary placement) that did put it into perspective for me. He said it would not be helpful to refuse to meet with clients when the occasion arises where they want to meet whilst drinking. I just told him that as that was the case, the role would probably not be suited for me, that I was there just for experience and was still exploring my options. The only other thing that I struggled with at the time was the feeling of being left out and of not being able to connect with these people because I was different - had a different culture. There is sometimes a pressure to do as others do to fit in, though it depends on the people you work with. The types of people can hugely influence a work environment dynamic, and often people hire like-minded people. However, I realised my uncomfortability came with a lack of confidence in myself and what I believe in, almost as though I was half-hearted about it.

I learnt from the experience about how to say no when I feel uncomfortable about a situation and that I don't always need to give an explanation. I am still working on developing the confidence to do so and am dealing with self-esteem and self-identity issues. So overall, there is a lot of pressure on people nowadays to attend these socials to be seen as part of the team, but just like your bf, if that is the case it's probably best to avoid those sorts of companies if that's not for you. I am hoping to find roles in workplace environments where I feel completely comfortable...
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#3

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:46 am

Popcorn123,

I'm not clear on your belief or objection to going to a pub? I'm curious if your belief is that you as an individual should not drink alcohol based on your faith, or that by going to a pub you are endorsing drinking alcohol and no one should drink?

The reason I ask is that if the answer is the prior, then it would seem you could frequent a pub and just not drink. To each his or her own.

If the answer is the latter, then would it not be suitable or even preferred to frequent a pub and not drink, thereby be a role model that others can follow if they so choose?

I guess what this wonderful morning has me pondering is the monk in the monestary. The monk holds a number of beliefs, but the people in the town have no clue. They have no idea there is such an alternative as "don't drink alcohol" because everyone in the town drinks. They have not even considered such an idea, it has never even occurred to them.

One day the monk visits a pub and orders a water. What!? Well look at that odd guy that ordered a water. I had no idea that was an option, but there the monk sits drinking water. He isn't preaching or pushing his beliefs, he is simply living his beliefs.

Having typed and relflected on the above, is your discomfort that you feel that uncomfortable living your beliefs in your extended community?

It is normal in my opinion. Many people live their beliefs in private or their close community, but when in the extended community do not. I'm just curious, because to me living a belief such abstaining from alcohol seems minor...in comparison to other more overt displays of what one believes.
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#4

Postby popcorn123 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 1:20 pm

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your reply. All your questions are valid and I have been asked these before, including the place at which I worked. Let me try and answer them here.

I'm not clear on your belief or objection to going to a pub? I'm curious if your belief is that you as an individual should not drink alcohol based on your faith, or that by going to a pub you are endorsing drinking alcohol and no one should drink?

The reason I ask is that if the answer is the prior, then it would seem you could frequent a pub and just not drink. To each his or her own.


Yes, we are prohibited from drinking alcohol, but are also advised not to attend events or sit with individuals who are drinking. This can seem quite strict for some people, and yes, there are plenty of people who do not adhere to this. Everyone practises their faith in different ways and to lesser or greater extents. So although it seems like going to the pub and not drinking would be OK, we are taught not to do so.

If the answer is the latter, then would it not be suitable or even preferred to frequent a pub and not drink, thereby be a role model that others can follow if they so choose?


That is a fair point to make. I can see the logic in this, but based on how we are taught to interact with others (specifically not being with those who drink in this situation), this is not an option. Rather I would hope that I can demonstrate my faith when I interact with others in other situations. We are always taught to be role models and to embody our faith as this is the best way to show others what we are about, as you said not preaching or pushing beliefs, simply living our beliefs.

Having typed and relflected on the above, is your discomfort that you feel that uncomfortable living your beliefs in your extended community?


No, I do not feel uncomfortable living my beliefs outwardly. I am very fortunate in that I live in a society where there is an acceptance and tolerance for all faiths and ways of life, so long as it does not encroach on others' safety or cause any harm. There are always pockets of ignorant people who can be negative, who either openly display aggression or just quietly discriminate, but so far in my life I think I have not come across such people.

There was actually a colleague in that workplace who also did not drink. However, he was not obliged to remain sober because of faith but rather because he realised it was very bad for his health and would do him no good. He had suggested to me to go and to of course not drink alcohol, saying that he does just that and that he enjoys watching people get drunk and make fools of themselves. Now I can see where his amusement would come from. I heard stories of the strange things people were doing after one of the work outings that ended up in the pub late at night... But I have actually been in a situation with friends who were drinking and got drunk. I remember seeing them just slowly losing it. They were just getting sleepy I think, not going crazy, but it was still quite a shock to me. I felt awful seeing that. But that was just me personally, nothing to do with beliefs.

Anyway, I hope I have answered your questions. I apologise if my answers are not adequate, I am not the best at describing these things. Please let me know if there is anything to clarify.
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#5

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:59 am

popcorn123 wrote: I hope I have answered your questions. I apologise if my answers are not adequate, I am not the best at describing these things. Please let me know if there is anything to clarify.


I understand. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I find it all very interesting.

Yes, we are prohibited from drinking alcohol, but are also advised not to attend events or sit with individuals who are drinking.


So you are following the guidance of someone else, telling you their interpretation. Are you not allowed to read and come to your own interpretation or you simply choose not to do so?
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#6

Postby popcorn123 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:03 am

I understand. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I find it all very interesting.


Thank you for taking the time to ask and read! I like open discussions. It also helps me to think.

So you are following the guidance of someone else, telling you their interpretation. Are you not allowed to read and come to your own interpretation or you simply choose not to do so?


That's another very good question. I am going to say both. Haha. The problem with interpretation is that anyone can come along, read something and then decide to take it any way they want. We have seen that a lot lately where people take one small exerpt from a holy book, without the context, and then decide to run with it so that it applies to their warped ideologies or just to try and degrade a religion. This is not how a religion that encompasses a person's whole life should be. We believe that the religion is from the creator, the one who knows everything there is to know, therefore we cannot change it and it does not need to be changed. In fact, trying to make up new ideas/laws claiming that it comes from the religion, though it does not, is seen as a big sin. It's a dangerous thing to do. This is why, in a way, we cannot just come up with our own interpretations. Instead, we look to the examples of the prophets, whose lives indicate to us how to live good lives, and also ensure we research the religion extensively. This is also why not just anyone can come along and make up laws from the scriptures, only the knowledgeable and well educated scholars. Having said this, some people do, and there are some people who take up positions of leadership though they have some strange, non-acceptable ideas. We can only try and avoid such people, in the endeavour to remain on the true path. So I also choose not to interpret it in my own way. I know so little, and I wish someone who knew more could explain this to both of us as they would do it much better than I can...
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#7

Postby popcorn123 » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:20 am

Also, I just realised the conversation above probably deviates quite a bit from what the OP had intended when they asked their question... Sorry tashlentine!!
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#8

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:40 am

popcorn123 wrote: So I also choose not to interpret it in my own way. I know so little, and I wish someone who knew more could explain this to both of us as they would do it much better than I can...


I think this approach is rather common. We defer to a person we consider to be a more knowledgeable other. With the rise in literacy over the last few centuries and the Information Age there has been a shift as people have more access to knowledge, but many times we still defer to a person that is dedicated to a particular field of study.

Anyway, you're right the thread got a little of track.

Thanks.
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