Happy hours became a big part of American society during Prohibition, when people would sneak out to a speakeasy for a few “tantalizingly illegal cocktails” before dinner.
Today, happy hours are everywhere — especially offices.
While it’s reasonable to have a little concern about getting drinks with your coworkers — especially given that 54% of Business Insider readers report having had a ‘romantic encounter’ with a colleague — the benefits for joining in for happy hour are as obvious as they are profound.
Because the thing about working in an office is that while you’re breathing the same air as your coworkers all day, you’re not exactly forming social bonds with them.
“When people are first forming friendships, the currency they’re using is the exchange of confidences,” Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” told us.
The open office is clearly not the place to exchange confidences; you’re not going to tell your colleague about how rowdy New Year’s got when your boss is in earshot.
This presents a problem for two reasons: We get jobs through people, and we get better at our jobs from knowing people.
Network science consultancy Activate Networks provides a compelling example.
In one case study, they mapped the social networks of engineers within an aerospace company. Activate found that after time at the organization, the greatest predictor of success was the quantity and qualities of connections a person had in their company.
For instance, if an engineer had strong relationships across departments as well as up and down the hierarchy, she was more likely to score highly on success metrics like patents filed or products brought to market — thanks to the flow of ideas and feedback that comes with having friends with varied perspectives.
But if you can’t forge those idea-enabling relationships in the not-so-private confines of an office, where do you do so?
You guessed it.
Just make sure not to stay out too late.