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Do I Have to Socialize with Teammates After Work?

Tatum SavageLast Updated: May 21, 2020

In our new series, re:work, our columnist tackles the tough situations that arise when working as a team. From appropriate use of shared space, to getting quick answers from remote teammates, we’re breaking down what troubles you, and helping you fix it. 

“Dear re:work,

My coworkers like to go out drinking after work. I’ve joined in a couple of times but it’s not really my scene. I don’t want to be seen as anti-social, or not a team player, but I also don’t feel comfortable in that environment. What do I do?


Big Homebody”

Submissions may have been edited for length and/or clarity. Submission was made prior to isolation orders.

Dear Big Homebody,

Spending time with your coworkers outside of work is important, there’s no denying that. Not only is it a chance to have some fun, it’s also integral to team bonding. That said, it’s arguably more important to respect your personal boundaries. If you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks, then we just need to adapt!

Communicate Your Needs

Letting your team know how you feel is the first step. Don’t feel pressured to get deep or personal about why you aren’t comfortable going out for drinks. Whether you prefer quieter spaces, or don’t vibe with the atmosphere of alcohol; whatever the reason is, it’s entirely up to you whether you share or not. Not comfortable sharing the reason? Just let them know you’re not a fan of that environment and leave it at that.

Suggest Different Activities

I’ll always advocate that people try new things and step outside their comfort zone. In your case, you’ve tried their way and for whatever reason it didn’t feel right. Instead of forcing yourself to do something that makes you genuinely uncomfortable, try to suggest a different activity. 

Maybe you like board games, sports, or cooking. Whatever it is, plan an event and invite the rest of your team. That way you know it’s within your comfort zone, but you won’t miss out on the ever important team time. Keep suggesting these alternative activities and I’ll bet your team will start to suggest different things too! Once a habit is broken it becomes much easier to continue trying new things.

Dealing with your own weird, frustrating, or downright awful work situation, and need a little help? Email for a chance to be the subject of our next re:work piece.

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