WeWork has enjoyed a meteoric rise. If you’re not familiar with the company, WeWork leases office space which it turns around and leases to other businesses. It’s particularly popular with the startup crowd. To appeal to the young, hardworking startup crowd, WeWork has offered an interesting array of perks to its tenants. One of the most popular has been the free craft beer kegs on tap for the folks in its offices. The strategy seems to have worked and has fit hand-in-glove with the more freewheeling culture of the tenants it has targeted over the years.
As of last week, however, WeWork has decided to take a more sober approach. According to the Wall Street Journal, WeWork “started limiting its beer to four 12-ounce glasses per person a day.” While a four-beer limit during a workday may not strike you as much of a sacrifice, it has raised noticed among people who monitor WeWork.
Even with this limit, WeWork takes a much more permissive approach to alcohol at the office than most. Even one beer is likely to get you in some pretty hot water with most employers. And we have no shortage of examples from the entertainment world of the uneasy intersection between alcohol, fun, and work:
- Who can forget the episode of Parks and Recreation where Leslie Knope crashes the “boys club” meeting after work to share some beers with the guys? All is going just fine until the diversion leads her underage assistant to crack open some wine and begin drunk-posting on social media. Poor Leslie has to suffer the indignity of a letter in her file and some serious self-flagellation.
- Even better, recall The Office episode when Michael Scott desperately needed to inject some cheer into the Scranton Christmas party. Michael dashes to the liquor store and questions the cashier, “All right, now, you’re the expert. Is this enough to get 20 people plastered?” The cashier gazes over Michael’s haul and opines, “Fifteen bottles of vodka? Yeah, that should do it.” The cashier was right—by the end of the night Meredith was exposing herself to Michael and he was snapping pictures. Here’s hoping Toby never had to learn about that one….
- And, finally, no list like this would be complete without a nod to Jason Bateman’s and T.J. Miller’s booze-soaked performances in Office Christmas Party. Zenotek desperately needs a wild party to impress a potential customer, and their efforts pay off in spades. Kate McKinnon’s performance as HR manager Mary is epic, especially when she tries to remind her fellow colleagues/partiers, “Remember that tonight the decisions you make will have consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your professional lives, and so have fun.” A few minutes later, though, she’s on stage rapping along to “Let Me Clear My Throat.”
I doubt the four-beer limit is likely to dim WeWork’s appeal, but the concern that may be driving the change is worth considering as we careen toward the end-of-year holidays (2018, where have you gone?). Most offices are going to be planning parties, get-togethers, and assorted fun over the next six weeks to celebrate the year. However, can the fun turn into a liability? You bet. So, as you plan to have some fun with your colleagues, don’t forget Mary’s admonition: “This is still an office and even though it’s dark outside the rules don’t turn off.”