Yes, ‘tis the season to be jolly – but not too jolly. As the holiday season kicks off, the endless rounds of parties and celebrations begin; not least of which is the annual office party. For most trainees, this is probably the first office end of year party you will be attending. Even though there is free food and alcohol on offer, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to successfully navigate office celebrations.
The most important thing to remember is that while the office may be throwing a party, it’s an office party, the key word being ‘office’. You’ll still have to be professional – you’re there as an employee and a company representative. Moreover, your bosses will be there watching, so don’t perform any career limiting moves.
Like it or not, the annual year end do is mandatory. You should definitely attend, so even if you couldn’t imagine anything you would less like to do than spend an evening with your bosses and co-workers, make sure you make an appearance. The invitation should inform you whether it’s appropriate to take a partner, and if you’re not sure, ask.
As always in the work place, there is a dress code. Again, the invitation, as well as the venue where the function is to be held should provide clues as to what you should wear. The basic ground rule is that the office function is not the place to wear that skimpy little black dress you bought on the weekend. Be festive, look good, but remember to steer clear of anything too flashy or revealing.
In the age of smart phones and selfies, it’s important to be aware of other people’s privacy. Before you take photos of your colleagues, ask them if they mind. This is especially important when it comes to posting the photos on Facebook or Instagram – get permission first and give careful consideration as to whether the photo you’re about to post is appropriate in the context of the professional environment.
Everything should be done in moderation, which doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Limit your alcohol intake (two drinks is usually a good place to stop) and remember that you’ll have to face your colleagues and work with them going forward, so don’t do anything that can ruin your good reputation.
When it comes to reputation, there are a few things to remember despite the informal environment. The office party is not the place for romance – so think twice before approaching the guy or girl you’ve been eyeing in the corridor the past few months. It’s also not the place to gossip about colleagues or get sucked in to other people’s gossiping or complaining, nor is it ideal to discuss the usual complaints – low pay, leave, superiors and the like.
The party is, however, a good opportunity to meet people that you may not otherwise have much contact with, so be friendly and open and introduce yourself to everyone instead of staying close to the people you work closely with on a daily basis. However, while it’s a good opportunity to get to know people, be careful not to be overly personal or overshare.
Finally, it should go without saying that you must not drink and drive. Even if you’ve not had too much to drink yourself, remember that the roads are dangerous at this time of year, so call a taxi or Uber there and back.
Huzaifah Elias, Director: Africa operations, Gud Holdings (Pty) LTD, 34 Like his father before him, Huzaifah...
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