You’ve almost made it through the workday and your email dings with one more message. It isn’t an addition to your work to-do list, but it might feel like a chore nonetheless. It’s an invitation to an after-work office party. Maybe it’s the yearly Christmas Mixer, or maybe it’s a “coffee and cocktails” event. Depending on your personality, you may smile and feel excited to spend time with your coworkers outside of office hours, or you may sigh and immediately start to consider excuses for your absence.
The next time you’re considering whether you should say yes to that after-work office party or head straight home to sink into your couch, consider the following benefits to participating in your office’s after-work events!
1. Opens the door to new relationships
After-work office parties can be the perfect chance for you to make important connections, especially if you work for a large company or in an industry built on networking, such as the entertainment or sales industry. These connections could lead you to large scale opportunities such as a promotion, new client, or new role. Or they could lead to smaller but just as important knowledge and opportunities, like knowing whose office to stop by when you need to mail an important document at the last minute on a Friday.
No matter what industry you work in, building and maintaining strong relationships with a wide variety of coworkers across departments will benefit your work in the long run. Simply having one more familiar face to smile at and make small talk with on the walk to the breakroom can enhance your day and make coming to work more enjoyable.
2. Helps strengthen existing relationships in a genuine way
Strengthening existing relationships with coworkers is arguably even more crucial to a successful work environment. And what better way to do this than over a coffee or cocktail at an event outside of business hours? Maybe you work for a small company and you already know everyone in the office, or maybe you just prefer to keep your work circle close. That doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of attending a work event.
Spending time with coworkers in a relaxed environment such as an after-work party allows for a more genuine connection between peers. And knowing coworkers on a personal level not only increases efficiency in the workplace, but makes work a more enjoyable experience for everyone. Additionally, taking the time to get to know people on a personal level has been shown to improve the effectiveness of negotiations, even when they become intense or heated. When there is an existing relationship outside of the work relationship, trust is built, which positively impacts almost every aspect of the work process!
3. Might better your mental and physical health
Human beings are social creatures. We are hard-wired to crave social interactions with other people. Because of this, it makes sense that numerous health experts have studied the effect of social interactions and/or loneliness on physical and mental health. A healthy amount of interaction with others can lower rates of anxiety and depression, and can even help to strengthen your immune system.
Alternatively, a lack of facetime with other people has been shown to correlate with irregular sleep patterns, elevated blood pressure, and increased cortisol (the stress hormone). Further, a lack of social interaction has been linked with increased anxiety and depression. Facetime with other people outside of discussing the day’s work tasks can be hugely beneficial to your mental and physical health.
4. Bonus reason: Free stuff!
While free stuff isn’t the only reason you show up for after-work events, we can all agree that it certainly doesn’t hurt. If for no other reason, stop by the work party for the chance to walk away with a free meal, drink, or even free merch!