Paul Guess, mental well–being expert at caba, an occupational charity, shares how you can plan and organise after–work events that stray from traditional drinking culture.
The latest NHS figures, published in 2023, reveal that over one in five Brits (21%) no longer drink alcohol. As more people become conscious of their drinking habits and embrace sober curiosity, it is time to rethink our workplace approach to gatherings and find ways to create enjoyable, alcohol–free experiences that cater to all preferences.
In today’s evolving workplace culture, more diverse and inclusive options have overtaken the traditional notion of bonding with colleagues over drinks at the local pub.
This is a step in the right direction, as caba’s research into addiction found that 83% of employees who said they drank alcohol on at least one occasion in the last 12 months had drunk over the recommended daily units of alcohol. Furthermore, 16% said that on a bimonthly occasion, they could not remember what had happened the night before due to drinking.
We want to give you the tools to stay in control and support a healthy work–life balance, especially in high–stress careers. So, here are four ways to unwind and connect with colleagues, without relying on the local pub:
Research and plan for local events
Explore your local community for events that cater to a wide range of interests. This not only offers excellent opportunities for team building and bonding, but also enriches your life beyond the office.
A few options include:
- Networking or industry events.
- Live gigs or comedy shows to relieve stress.
- Karaoke nights and quiz competitions for a fun–filled evening.
- Cooking classes, as they do say, food is the key to people’s hearts.
- Sports activities like badminton, tennis, and football. These activities can be played outside and indoors to bear the bad weather.
- Escape room challenges where you can problem–solve and laugh together.
These options can help you connect with your work friends in unique ways, ensuring professional relationships extend into personal ones.
Engage in fun–filled game nights
Game nights can offer a fantastic way to unwind with colleagues without relying on alcohol. Whether you host these evenings at someone’s home or find a cosy recreational location with board games or pool tables, the focus is on enjoyment, laughter, and friendly competition. To keep things interesting, you could take turns leading the game nights and rotate between various activities like board games, bingo, or trivia quizzes.
Prioritise physical well–being
Physical activities have a profound impact on both our mental and holistic health. Encouraging your work team to take part in fun activities like yoga, group classes, or dance events can build stronger bodies and bonds with work friends.
These activities allow you to connect personally while making the most of the health and well–being boost. Being physically active also has countless work–life balance benefits, from reducing stress to lifting moods, and taking part with others can provide the motivation to keep consistent.
Collaborate for a greater good
Consider making a difference as a team by volunteering for a charitable cause. Research by Hays shows that if employees had a four–day week, one in five would like to spend the fifth day volunteering.
First, ask who would be interested in volunteering and then, you can organise some after–work volunteer sessions. This initiative allows you to give back to the community and create more enriching friendships with fulfilling tasks. You could also rotate the type of volunteer work to fulfil everyone’s interests (pet charities, children’s charities, soup kitchens, etc.)
It’s worth acknowledging that not all your work friends will be equally enthusiastic about this type of activity, and you shouldn’t be judgemental about this. So, organising various out–of–work plans throughout the month, with input from everyone, is key. This way, everyone will enjoy experiences that resonate with their interests.
With workplace cultures truly shifting, out-of-work activities should also become more inclusive. Sober October is the perfect time to embrace this and explore new ways to bond
with colleagues while nurturing physical and mental well–being. Embracing these options will encourage everyone to forge deeper connections and create more vibrant workplace relationships.
Why not start by discussing these ideas with your colleagues and organising the first event? Share your experiences and inspire others to do the same. Your office can become a vibrant hub of creativity, connection, and well–being without relying on alcohol–centric gatherings.