It’s pretty difficult to make a case for drinking in the office with studies out there showing that most Americans have a negative perception of drinking in professional settings.
Scott Rick of the University of Michigan and Maurice Schweitzer of the Wharton Business school have just concluded one of those studies. Set to appear in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, it’s called "The Imbibing Idiot Bias: Consuming Alcohol Can Be Hazardous to Your (Perceived) Intelligence."
In one of the study’s central experiments they found that job candidates who ordered an alcoholic beverage while interviewing over dinner were viewed as less intelligent than those who ordered a soft drink. A number of other experiments revealed similar results, something they call the "imbibing idiot bias." Translation: people equate even moderate drinking with stupidity.
Ready for the good news? Another study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, conducted by psychologists at the University of Illinois, shows something completely different. Their results revealed that employees find creativity at the bottom of a couple empty drinks. Although people who are drinking may find it harder to focus on one particular task, they found that these people are more likely to come up with innovative ideas.
We see this in shows like Mad Men (pictured above), where advertising executives are portrayed as super successful, uber creative business people who drink all day. At meetings, in the office, out to lunch, and so forth. They are working in a creative capacity, and so, they need that innovative inspiration.
And this isn’t just some fantasy glorified in television shows. In 17th century England, many employers used gin to pay their employees. The workers obliged happily. It was also common for 19th century American railroad builders to receive boozy benefits from the higher-ups during work hours.
We do it here at KegWorks, and we’ve been one of the fastest growing companies in our region for three years running. We have a kegerator at the office, and at Beer O’Clock (4 p.m. EST) we are allowed to have a pint. A lot of people do, a lot of people don’t. The office doesn’t change. We keep on working. We just work with a beer if we want.
For more great reasons on why drinking is a positive in the workplace, see Liz’s post from last year.