General Question

girlofscience's avatar

Is it acceptable to drink at your desk if you're working late?

Asked by girlofscience (7475 points ) March 4th, 2009

You’re salaried, not paid by the hour. The only thing that counts is the quality of your work. If you stay late to work on a project, do you feel it is acceptable to enjoy a few beers at your desk while you work?

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50 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

on one hand, i’d say no. could effect quality.

on the other hand, i say, no one sees you, go for it.

chyna's avatar

Probably not. Your company could be liable if you went out and wrecked and hurt someone or got hurt yourself and it was known that you were at work drinking.

girlofscience's avatar

Hm. What about if alcohol was served at the 6pm work meeting? Everyone else went home after the meeting, but you decided to stay to finish up some work, and you continued to drink beer?

scamp's avatar

Drinking on the premises or even showing up on the premises whether you are on the clock or not it grounds for immediate dismissal where I work. I think it’s a good policy. Drinking should not be mixed with work.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

I would say no, but make sure to go get a beer or two after all your work is done!

Or bring vodka in a water bottle. That’s what some girls did when I was in EIGHTH GRADE.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@girlofscience i worked at an office that supplied beer at office parties, etc. everyone looked the other way if it was company-supplied.

nikipedia's avatar

Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it’s acceptable. I think when you and I are PIs we should institute a policy that anyone who insists on staying in the lab after 8pm must be drinking. Maybe only applies on Thursday/Friday/Saturday.

Exceptions apply when working with toxins or carcinogens.

Further exceptions when working with equipment that costs >$10,000 (US).

TitsMcGhee's avatar

As a side note, I always drank on the job (starting around, oh, noon or so), but I worked at a pizzeria.

basp's avatar

No. You get paid to work. You don’t get paid to drink.
And, with these kind of questions, if you have to ask, the answer is most likely what you don’t want to hear.

Another thing, in these times when there are so many layoffs, you might not want to take the chance of doing something that would make you a good choice should they be deciding who to lay off next.

scamp's avatar

@basp Excellent post! I agree 100%! I would toast to your post, but I am at work, ha ha!!

girlofscience's avatar

Haha. Wow. I must work in a very different environment than most. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder of how different academia is from every other area of work…

funkdaddy's avatar

It’s part of the culture for where you work. If it’s a work hard/play hard environment usually it’s not a problem since they ask a lot of you Monday through Friday. After the work day Friday quite a few places don’t mind, especially if you’re giving them part of your weekend. Just don’t get sloshy.

If you’re working for big business and it’s a mixed crowd where some might be offended, everyone packs it in at 5:00 sharp, and you’re staying late. It’s probably a better idea just to finish up and slide over to the nearest bar.

cak's avatar

When I worked at a country club as an event planner there were times that my job actually involved some drinking. Wine tastings, new vendors, beer tastings, new vendors, different hard liquors would come in, new vendors….wait, why did I leave that job? Anyway, it was part of the job. A sip or two versus continuing to drink, two totally different things. They provided a beer at the meeting, fine. They (employers) probably don’t think that you would take that as a lead in to continue drinking while you are working late.

I would say no, it’s not okay.

When you are the boss and ruling the world – follow nikipedia’s business model and set company policy that way, if you wish!

girlofscience's avatar

Random, relevant story:

When I was an undergrad, I bought a bottle of scotch for the chair of my department as a thank-you for writing me letters of recommendation for grad school. I delivered it to him in his office, and he thanked me and said he really appreciated the gift, especially because he was running low. He then opened a cabinet above his desk and put the bottle of scotch next to a few empty bottles of scotch that were sitting there and a glass with some remnants in it.

And he doesn’t drink at his desk after hours? And people would care if he did?

Jeruba's avatar

If I ever saw a colleague drinking at work (other than at a designated social event—and even if such an event had occurred earlier), it would be a huge red flag. Whether or not I chose to report it to anyone, it would forever after color my view of the person and affect my confidence in him or her. To be specific: not so much because of what it said about the person’s personal habits as because of what it said about his or her judgment. Drinking on the job is not professional behavior, any more than crying and fighting on the phone with your boyfriend in full earshot of all your cubicle mates is professional behavior.

scamp's avatar

@cak So true. A couple of drinks at a company mixer is much different than continuing the party while you do your job.

@girlofscience Do you know when the chair of the department drank? Or are you just guessing? Just because he had an empty bottle you can’t really think it means he is setting a good example and everyone can do it. Even if he did have a drink at his desk after hours, was he doing any work at the time, like you are? That is no excuse at all.

And don’t forget, in your position, you are much more expendible than he is. Do you really want to take the risk over a few beers??

cak's avatar

@GoS —difference, he was the chair of the department – you are not. There are some unspoken rules in some areas of business. It’s not right, but it’s the way it works – in some places. I still wouldn’t do it.

VS's avatar

While it may be done in some work places, I’m not sure I could reconcile having drink of anything alcohol while on the work premises. I’m sure there are rules against it (I work for the court system!) and besides I just think work is work and drinking is for somewhere other than work! [just my opinion]

nikipedia's avatar

Wait, so what makes something an acceptable versus unacceptable drinking venue? Let’s assume we’re talking a couple drinks, not getting super intoxicated, and assume there are no institutional prohibitions.

Would you consider it okay to drink in parks? On the subway? At a museum? The zoo? A movie theater?

AstroChuck's avatar

No. Not at work.

Knotmyday's avatar

Depends on whether you are the boss or not. The boss can do what he/she wants, with relative impunity (re- the chair of the department).

The question is: Would your boss fire you for having a few beers with your midnight oil, or would he join you? Therein lies the answer.

p.s., as a boss…generally, I’m buying. Not everyone shares that viewpoint, though.

Judi's avatar

I hear that when you tour the BMW plant in Germany you see the guys building cars and drinking Beer.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I wouldn’t do it, but it depends on the specific workplace’s mores. Personally, I think being at your desk is worktime and having a beer is playtime. If everyone’s in the conference room having a beer or two, that’s different.

Jayne's avatar

I accept it, ergo, it is acceptable. Whether or not it is advisable is a whole other story.

cookieman's avatar

My generic answer is “no” but it completely depends on what’s acceptable at your job.

Years ago I managed a frame shop in a glass company and the owners (two brothers) kept the soda machine stocked with beer. Little sign said, “if you’re off the clock, you can be on the sauce”.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Where I work, it’s termination. You can’t even drink at lunch.

chyna's avatar

@cprevite—that’s funny to be able to drink around glass. Bull in a china shop.—

cak's avatar

@nikipedia – isn’t that a different question, though? Acceptable drinking venues vs. unacceptable, meaning if you an employee at those venues; or, just in general? I’m not sure if you are asking this in relation to being an employee at those venues, or just a regular person at those places.

Speaking from someone that had to fire people for drinking on the job, generally, it is not acceptable to drink on the job – unless there are special circumstances. If an employer offers a beer or two, at a meeting or say at the end of your shift – some beer companies do this, that is one thing. If the employer sanctions a beer at a meeting, they are probably thinking that one beer – or say, two, is okay; however, to continue drinking, probably not okay. While I worked at the country club, I would pull a few employees, different ones, every time, in to try the new wines. I’m talking tasting, not truly drinking glasses of wine. Unfortunately, a few took it too far. They assumed this meant drinking on the job was okay. What may be different here, is that it was extremely clear to our employees that drinking on the job, was not okay. It was in our handbooks, it was explained verbally and there was a form that employees would sign – that made the exclusion of wine tastings. Drinking beyond a tasting, with a supervisor, not okay.

Drinking employees open an employer up to many different issues, insurance liability, alone is something to consider. I’m not saying GoS would get wasted and then drive drunk, but what if she had one too many and dinged someone’s car in the parking lot. Technically, her employer can be liable, too. They allowed alcohol, she continued to drink – both can be sued.

In my opinion, it’s just not a good idea.

skfinkel's avatar

I would say that if you felt okay working at your desk during the day with a drink, you could also do it at night. If not, I wouldn’t do it at night either.

syz's avatar

No.

cdwccrn's avatar

Water, yes. Whiskey, no.

cak's avatar

@cdwccrn good rule of thumb!

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@nikipedia: Haha, I have drank at all of those places. Ah, being a teenager :)

marinelife's avatar

No, it will impair you performance. It could also well be a firing offense if you were caught.

cookieman's avatar

@chyna: hard working, hard partying guys and giant panes of glass. It was unsettling.

essieness's avatar

I wouldn’t risk it.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I have a friend who drinks beer at his desk during the regular work day, and his boss’s desk is in the same room with him. It all depends on your specific circumstances. (He does great work too, from what I hear.)

kevinhardy's avatar

do what is necessary, tequila, etc

essieness's avatar

Although, working in the restaurant biz, I have wanted to round everyone up for a “shift shot” when tensions get really high.

kevinhardy's avatar

you see my point

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@essieness: We did that at my job all the time. We shared a basement with a Mexican restaurant, and our kitchen doors opened onto one another, and we would get margaritas and tequila shots from them. We also got liquor from the liquor store across the street and spent nights getting pretty schwasty. We didn’t take our jobs too seriously, haha.

Maverick's avatar

I used to do this once in a while at my old job. Oddly, it never occurred to me to ask anyone if it was ok. If anyone had challenged me on it, I would have just left the work for the next day. Problem solved.

Dr_C's avatar

Not mixing work with pleasure is still a good maxim… but i guess it depends on what you do… if your job reqires you tobe alert and ready to perform any given task then don’t drink… if on the other hand you know your tolerance level and your job only requires some paperwork or something non-life threatening… go for it. I wish i could drink at my job… it would make life a lot easier… but then i’d be putting my patients’ life at risk… i won’t even drink more than 3 beers if i have to work the next day…. never if i’m on call.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I’d say no, it’s not acceptable. I’d never do it. If you can’t wait until you’re out of the office to have a drink, you have a big problem.

scamp's avatar

@nikipedia Drinking on any job is not acceptable. I have gone to business meetings with drug reps, where we had dinner and drinks, but all business was concluded before the first drink was ordered. And even then, we minded our P’s and Q’s.

gooch's avatar

It depends on the job. As a firefighter/EMT that would be a no! As an artist it would definatly be okay.

jackfright's avatar

yes. i manage a team of 31. we do a lot of production work, TV ads, corporate websites, branding related projects, and because of the hours we keep, i let them. every now and then as we head towards the end of a particularly challenging project, i’ll get them a gift. the last was a Blue Label.

it really depends on the nature of the work you do i guess. in return, the team doesn’t question me, and they go the extra mile for me. all that i really care about is the quality of the output, because it’s also the only thing our clients and the owner cares about.

i obviously dont know for sure, but i imagine most bosses in the production industry would prefer a talented, hard working drinker to a sober, lazy fool.

Amurph's avatar

ABSOLUTELY it’s acceptable – especially if served drinks at a late meeting.

In my office we have drinks once a week, and if there’s beer in the fridge and we’re working late, we’ll have one.

Of course, we all take public transport or cabs home. No drinking and driving!

AnnieOakley's avatar

No – not professional.

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