Working in a typical office doesn’t spur Mad Men-styled visions of martinis and whiskey sours—but what would happen if your company provided alcohol? To some businesses, a ready supply of drinks increases creativity, develops more engaged employees, and builds a happier work environment. Between beer-stocked fridges and happy hours, these workplaces have remixed the Mad Men era for modern employees.
Which companies serve alcohol?
Ad agencies and tech businesses lead the cultural shift toward serving drinks at work, but others have followed the trend too:
- Yelp. Employees at the app company love beer so much that they built their very own Kegbot, an iPad-powered device that tracks employee consumption, ounces poured, and brew ratings.
- Twitter. The popular social media site gets a monthly happy hour and offers wine and beer in its refrigerators.
- Tagged. This social network offers weekly happy hours to employees, as well as monthly wine club gatherings and beer club get-togethers.
- CrowdFlower. The crowdsourcing company keeps a fully stocked fridge of beer and purchases kegs for special events.
- Advance Medical. As far as healthcare staffing companies are concerned, Advance Medical offers the unique workplace perk of “beer cart Fridays.” The cart rolls through the office each week so employees can enjoy a brew on company time.
- Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal + Partners. This ad agency hosts “Trolleys,” named after a cocktail cart that roamed the office decades ago; employees can choose from a wide range of liquor, including brands that work with the company.
- Other ad agencies, such as McKinney, Arnold, and Velti, offer bars as well. These agencies include perks with the drinking scene such as live music, beer vending machines, and pool tables.
Why drink at work?
Alcohol can change brain chemistry, for better or worse; any cautious human resources department would rather avoid the liability of intoxicated employees than allow them into the office. Some research also suggests that job applicants who ordered alcohol during a dinner interview were considered less intelligent than those who ordered soft drinks instead—and that the phenomenon spread to the rest of the workforce. If people associate drinking with lower intelligence, then they could expect a range of alcohol-fueled misjudgments at work: sexual harassment, drunk driving, or in the case of Mad Men, lawnmower accidents. Certainly heavy drinking on the job does not promote well-being.
However, the above companies control alcohol intake with drink quotas, limited happy hours, or bans on driving after consumption. Aside from promoting safe habits, they also explain that moderate drinking reduces employee turnover, provides incentives to work harder, allows people to relax, and promotes collaborative work. Research suggest some truth in the trend; in one study by the University of Illinois at Chicago, test subjects solved creative problems with greater ease after moderate alcohol consumption.
Though these businesses capitalize on the creativity that ensues from a stocked bar, no reports indicate that any of them offer education on alcohol abuse or resources for those overcoming alcoholism. Thus, for those presented with the opportunity to drink on the job, moderation remains the best course of action.