Social Butterfly

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I ran across an interesting question in one of my FB groups yesterday. A group member was seeking opinions about how much after work socializing others did with their co-workers. She mentioned that she had started a new job and had gone to a couple of work related events after hours, but it seemed to be the norm that the folks she worked with did a standing happy hour every Friday and sometimes hooked up to hang out on weekends. Because she’d declined to participate in with them, a few side bar comments had been made.

Her contention was that she saves her after work and weekend personal time to connect with her REAL friends, not co-workers which I totally agreed with. She asked for help in balancing the need for “face time” and her own personal time. Some folks suggested going to an happy hour once a month and staying long enough to have one drink and then leaving. I suggested initiating lunch plans with people so she would have that excuse (of having to run errands that couldn’t be done at lunch) to pass on after work plans. Others gave examples of how they’d been counseled by  management or mentors to be more sociable and how they’d benefited in the workplace because they were or had become more sociable.

So my question is: do you socialize with your co-workers after hours? Has it helped or hurt you in your work life? And how do you draw the line between work and personal time? And how do you feel about “mandatory” work social events? Love them or hate then??

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15 responses »

  1. Facetime is definitely necessary especially when wanting to move up the management chain or thought about for special projects or that recommendation or reference. Fortunately I can get away with minimal because it is known that I have a family. Some events I always made it my business to attend & made arrangements. Happy Hours not really but company outings at a spOrting event, or holiday/summer outings that included all staff i attended. I do lunch or gym with those in my unit.

  2. I agree alot of earlier comments – a little face time is necessary IMO, but I don’t really spend time outside of work with anyone that’s not an actual friend. Perhaps my career trajectory has been impacted, but I’m at peace with it.

  3. In other jobs I have hung out with coworkers socially. Still keep in touch with most of them, but don’t hang like we used to. In my last two positions, I’ve not hung out – most folks are cool, but we’ve nothing in common besides work.

    I don’t work in a corporate environment, so socializing isn’t expected. And when it occurs it is strictly for social purposes – no ladder climbing, etc.

  4. If I had a job with coworkers, I’d probably socialize with them. It seems easy to be -friend a coworker. You have similiar incomes and professional interests. I have become good friends and socialized with people I meet in the course of my work.

    My husband and i met on a ski trip. He was there with his coworker and friends he met through the coworker. My husband brings coworkers home and the kids of some of his coworkers come to our kids’ birthday parties.

    Most recently the winery that we joined had an in home tasting. Our apt was not large enough, so my husband’s coworker opened his home and co-hosted with us. It was lots of fun.

    When I was having my son, one of my sister’s old coworkers, flew to LA. (she flies free) to pick up my daughter and fly her to Oakland to my mom. My son was a couple of weeks early so that coworker-friend, on no notice, allowed my husband to be with me at the hospital.

    I am likely to love ” mandatory ” social events if they were family or couple friendly. When my husband worked for Pepsi I looked forward to their social events.

  5. In the past, I never minded socializing that much with co-workers because it was so infrequent and I wasn’t paying for the meal, etc. Today a colleague asked if I wanted to do girls night with a dinner and a movie. she didn’t say who the other “girls”. Before this I didn’t get the impression that they hung out or even when to lunch. Then after that she said we all should go out to lunch more O_O! I’ve barely been here two weeks. So, I feel like I’m still making an impression…lunch I can do but going to a movie would still feel like work. I don’t feel like I could relax and be myself completely.

    But that every week and on the weekends is for folk with no friends! I can sorta see if you moved to a town and didn’t know anyone and bonded with work folk but work is work! I think it depends on the job. the more stressful the job, the less likely you want to do it. When I taught elementary school (heck yeah stressful) I went out with a group of other teachers. They bashed kids and parents all night long and THEN someone had the audacity to invite our principal’s daughter to hang with us…my first and last time doing that!

    Oan: I think I’m going to like Houston!

  6. I don’t tend to hang out with my co-workers until we are no longer co-workers ;-o I agree that my after work hours are for my actual friends and family and I could care less about how others perceive me for it. I would imagine that this may be frowned upon in some fields; I’m just grateful that’s never been the case for me.

  7. Hanging out with coworkers is a thing of myths to me. I hear about it, I know it happens, but I would never do it. I would never hang out with my coworkers on a social level. I agree that I would much rather hang out with my REAL friends. Thankfully, I dont work in an environment where that is an issue.

  8. I’m willing to bet your fb friend is black (or a minority) and her co workers are mostly white. This has consistently been my experience…

    I think one thing many black professionals who work in predominantly white environments do is code switch and whether we know it or not, that can be taxing. We’re on at work and then we’re STILL on when we go out with our co-workers after work. That mess is exhausting and of course they don’t get that.

    Meanwhile, white folks are often really here for that socializing piece. In my experience it seems they see it as being on par with having a good work ethic and showing up on time. Someone on twitter said once, “you can work your ass off on a project and produce something great, but if you didn’t ask them about their cat, it’s like you didn’t do shit…”

    I think some white folks and some minorities have seriously different opinions about the function of work. We often don’t go to work looking to make friends and they often do and they get slick offended when it seems like you don’t want to play with them.

    Anyway, to answer your actual question, I think your advice was good. When I worked in a setting like that, I would go to one or two of those happy hour type events a month (in my case, they happened weekly) and then I would have “other plans with friends” for those other times.

    Playing the game is hard!

    • “We’re on at work and then we’re STILL on when we go out with our co-workers after work. That mess is exhausting and of course they don’t get that.”

      I haaate when people say “THIS!”, but it is so appropriate. You hit the nail on the head!

  9. I used to hang with co workers sometimes, but I don’t do it now. I’m not prejudice, but I’ve always worked with 99% white people and I’m just not feeling it. Maybe if I worked with black people I’d want to hang out after work and all of that. ~shrug~

    My standard response when co-workers ask me about happy hour or hooking up on the weekend is, “Gee…I see you guys 40 hours a week…that’s enough! (fake laugh) I like spending ALL of my free time with my family. Have fun!” I feel absolutely NO regret and I couldn’t muster up a care if they talk behind my back. There is something inherently wrong with a married woman with 2 kids spending 40 hours with co-workers, working, and 10+ hours with co-workers partying. WTF?

  10. I socialize with my coworkers (well, former coworkers because I got a new gig! *praise dances*) because I moved to another city and hadn’t many friends. For the most part, it helped because one of the ppl I socialized with help me to get my new position. Other than that, it has been pretty neutral, in spite of after-hours socializing being mandatory to succeed at my former company. I don’t really mind “mandatory” work events, as long as it’s company or department wide, and fit a larger purpose. A mixer for everyone in the department, because most of the time your colleagues are traveling or working on client sites 90% of the time is OK. Mandatory events with the same jokers I see M-F, 8am-6pm are no bueno. I would very quickly set up my once a month routine and keep it moving.

    I treat all my work friends like work friends. Unless we become SUUUUPER close (and aren’t in direct competition for a promotion or raise) work colleagues are not real friends. Act accordingly.

  11. This is a bullshit situation… I’ve been through this first hand. This kinda thing had me ordering pizza to be sent to my children so that I could put in face time with my drunk ass CFO and co-workers. I would sit there nursing a margarita madder than hell. I HATE having to play bullshit corporate political games. And just as sure as that mess started to affect my home life and I pulled back, I was deemed not to be “a team player”. This is an aspect of working that I definitely don’t miss.

  12. I used to socialize with my old team all the time. I loved hanging out with them and we often traveled together for weeks at a time which helped us become closer. Although some of them no longer work with me we’re still really tight and I consider three of them to be some of my closest friends years after we no longer work together.

    I moved to a new team a few years ago and there are lots of Happy Hours for home teams, for project teams and folks just wanting to hang in general. I’m lucky that they happen during the week but it has interfered with my gym time and if you follow me on twitter or 4square you know I love my gym time. I have re arranged my gym time/work outs to attend because like a lot of deals happen on the golf course, deals happen at HH. A lot of stuff is discussed that can help my career and I take note. I don’t drink more than 2 glasses of wine and talk about work stuff with a few non essential personal stuff weaved in. When I wasn’t drinking for the month of January I still went and drank soda water.

    I can’t always attend but since they only happen on average of once or twice a month I make a point to attend when I can.

  13. I hate those “team building” happy hour things. What if I was a recovering alcoholic? What if my religion frowns on drinking? Just because we work together, doesn’t mean we have to be buddies. I have one group of friends from my first job out of college, and it didn’t help any of us career wise because we were young and black and went to lunch together. Work ends at 5pm. I have family obligations and don’t have time to hang out with people I already spend 40 hours a week with.

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