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Office Parties: The Dos and Don’ts

Author: Emma Allison
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Of the many things I love about working at Forward Role, how well everybody in the office gets on with each other has to be the best. As a company and a team we have grown considerably since I was hired 18 months ago, and fortunately as new people have joined Forward Role we have all become great friends who enjoy regular social events outside of working hours. Some past out-of-office activities have included clay pigeon shooting, playing football, watching football, golf, snowboarding, and trips to Vegas; but mainly, we love getting dressed up for a night on the town.

All companies and offices differ, consequently so do office parties. You may work for a small business in a fun, sociable modest office in your local village, or you may work for a large corporate company in a sky rise city centre building boasting ten floors and twenty different divisions. Nevertheless, no matter who you work for or what your working setting is like, I believe there are a few golden rules that apply at all office gatherings.

The Dos:

  • Show up! It is almost impossible for every colleague to always be free for office get-togethers, but it is in your best interest to try your hardest to be present at as many as you can. Making an effort when it is not necessarily required in your ‘Job Description’ shows commitment to your work, as well as letting your co-workers see an alternative side to your character.
  • Network. If you work for a smaller business, chances are you speak to every colleague quite regularly. What differs when working for a larger company is that there may be people at office parties who you have never even noticed, let alone spoken to. Get talking to people you wouldn’t usually interact with at work.
  • Unwind. Although you may be going out with your co-workers, you’re not at work – it’s a social occasion. Have a few drinks, talk about your holiday plans or new pet goldfish, and get up and party if your colleagues are doing similar. Don’t talk about work too much – it’s certain to come up in discussion, but keep it to a minimum! Office parties are still parties, and everybody is there to have fun and forget about work and life pressures.
  • Dress suitably. Smart-casual is great, unless instructed otherwise before to the event; a dress or suit is always a safe bet. Selecting the backless mini dress you wore last Saturday when you were out with your friends is probably a bad choice. If you’re uncertain, ask your associates what they’re wearing and ask your friends and family for their thoughts when you’ve decided on your outfit.

The Don’ts:

  • Stay in the same group. You really don’t want to be remembered as one of the antisocial clique who sat in the corner all evening, so make sure you be proactive and talk to people, particularly people who you don’t see frequently at work, or who you may never have spoken to. Senior management and junior interns at opposite ends of the room will be just as awkward as a boy / girl split at a school disco.
  • Drink too much! Lots of us have winced at their friends’ hysterical stories of attempting to moonwalk and confessing their love for their line manager at the office party, just make sure you don’t fall in to the same trap. Have a couple of drinks but know when to stop – if you start feeling a bit self-assured and want to tell a colleague what you really think of them, it’s perhaps time to start drinking diet coke minus the double vodka.
  • Get carried away in conversation. Chatting and getting to know everybody is great, but telling Mary from Reception the awful details of your failing marriage isn’t going to do you any favours come Monday morning when every Tom, Dick and Harry in the office is giving you their best “It’ll be alright” look.
  • Ring in sick the following day. Calling your boss the morning after a work night out to say you have been struck down with a “remarkable bout of food poisoning” is the least believable excuse ever heard. Either avoid the wine, book the day off in advance, or have a bacon sarnie, take a deep breath and go to work.

The utmost important thing to ensure is that you have fun. Everybody is there by their own choice to have a great time, so get to know people and have a laugh. You never know, you might impress a senior member of staff or make some new friends. Do not undervalue office parties; networking is vital to advancing your career, and office parties are the perfect place to master your networking abilities.

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