There are several benefits to the institution of happy hour: reduced prices for certain well drinks, beer, and wine; it’s cheaper than a group dinner; there’s no need for reservations. It’s an easily organized, straightforward way to get coworkers to bond, and not always on the company dime. But according to the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, 30 percent of American adults don’t drink alcohol; for those that do, the median number of drinks per week is 3. Fortunately, not every post-work social activity needs to center on booze. Here are 5 happy hour alternatives, the majority of which are alcohol-free.
- Group Paint Nite.
This one does include alcohol, but it’s more arthouse, less frathouse. Paint Nite is a 2-hour guided painting class — originating in Somerville, MA and now with locations all over the world — complete with wine or other alcohol to get the creative paints flowing. You can wrangle a small or large group and have an instructor-led art class during the day or night, in one of their venues or in your own office.
- Take a class.
Team building is much more fun when there’s food guaranteed. A cooking class — anything from slicing sushi rolls to baking pies — allows people to quite literally have their cake and eat it too. Depending on your city, many cooking schools (and some restaurants) host on-site corporate classes or can send an instructor and equipment to you.
- Host a trivia night (or attend one).
You can take your group to a local bar for their trivia night to compete against other teams or have your own in the office. All you need to host your own are team names, a host, a prize, some snacks, and of course, questions. You can come up with your questions or borrow some from websites like sporcle.com and triviabug.com.
- Group yoga/meditation.
Everyone knows that sitting at a desk all day isn’t healthy for your mind or body. What is healthy is doing downward-facing dog alongside coworkers once you’ve closed your laptop for the day. Companies like Appirio, Intuit, Google, Eventbrite, and Pinterest provide on-site yoga as part of a positive Worker Experience, and fortunately, more companies are following their lead. Even if your company doesn’t provide it as a regular benefit, you can always host an in-office yoga night with a few videos and a little BYOYM (Bring Your Own Yoga Mat). It’s easy, free, and relaxing.
- Nightlife events at a local museum.
Certain museums became instantly cooler to the general population the moment they extended hours, banned children, and started selling themed drinks. So rather than take your team to a bar, why not an all-dinosaur exhibit? Or a lightshow at a planetarium? It’s still a pro-drinking environment, but too-close drunk strangers will be arguing over fossils rather than a baseball game — a nice change of pace.
We don’t need to ban happy hour (and there would likely be rioting if we did). But we do need new and different ways to bond with our coworkers, much of which can be done by exploring the city, learning a new skill, or participating in a little friendly competition. The Future of Work is about mobility and flexibility — namely, opportunities for virtual work and real-time collaboration in the cloud. And in many ways, so is the future of happy hour.